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The Flu Vaccine Linked to Heart Health

Each year, men, women and children make it a point to get the annual flu vaccination. From the local pharmacy to the family physician, people line up with hopes of bypassing the dreaded flu. Could these individuals also be reducing their risk of certain heart health implications?

If you said yes, you would be correct, according to researchers at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto.

In a study conducted with just under 3,300 individuals at an average age of 60—some with a prior history of heart complications and others without, researchers found that the flu vaccine could in fact be a heart vaccine, too.

Within a year after vaccinations were distributed at random, there were 187 cases of heart attacks or stokes including 65 deaths to those who did not receive the vaccine.  Those who got the flu vaccine were less likely to have events of cardiovascular distress or die them from.

Dr. Udell, cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, concluded the findings by stating, “it may be that when people develop heart disease, some factor ‘tips them over the edge,’ such as plaque clogging arteries, or lower levels of oxygen as a result of the flu.”

The flu vaccine can help to prevent the flu and could, in essence, break up plaque in the arteries. According to Udell, “either one is very provocative, and it’s important to drill down and get the answer.”

Though the exact link is unclear, cardiologist and director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Institute at Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, Dr. Sarah Samaan, said the link might be reduced inflammation.

The flu causes levels of inflammatory substances to rise; such inflammation can trigger a heart attack. According to Samaan, “this happens because inflammation can make cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels unstable.”

If you would like to speak to a cardiologist about your heart health during flu season, contact the Long Island Heart Associates today or request a consultation.

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