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10/02/2009 - News

Flu Vaccine May Protect Against Heart Attack

By: June Chen, MD


Cardiac complications of flu infection, such as inflammation of the heart muscle, are well-recognized, but the role of influenza as a trigger for heart attack is less clear. According to a systematic review published early online in The Lancet: Infectious Diseases, scientists report that influenza vaccines may protect against heart attack in people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from the United Kingdom performed a systemic review of the evidence and examined the association between influenza and heart attack or cardiovascular death. They also assessed the effectiveness of influenza vaccine at protecting against heart attack and other cardiac events. The researchers found consistent associations between influenza and heart attack and weaker associations with cardiovascular death. Two small trials evaluated the possible protection offered by influenza vaccine against heart attack and other cardiac events in people with cardiovascular disease. While one trial found that flu vaccine offered significant protection against cardiovascular death, the other was inconclusive.
The researchers believe that influenza vaccine should be encouraged, especially among people with cardiovascular disease, as the current evidence supports a protective, but not statistically significant effect, effect against heart attack.  Further research is needed to determine whether influenza vaccine also protects against heart attack in people without existing cardiovascular disease.


The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2009;9(10):601-610.

Created on: 10/02/2009
Reviewed on: 10/02/2009

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