Asian Scientist (Aug. 27, 2013) – A study has found that flu vaccination could lower the risk of heart attack in middle-aged people with narrowed arteries.
According to the study, published in Heart, influenza may be an unrecognized participant of heart attacks and the flu vaccine could lower the risk of heart attack by 45%.
Previous research had indicated that infections such as flu might encourage blood to thicken or prompt an inflammatory response in arteries that are already diseased, sparking the development of a blockage, thus causing a heart attack.
The findings suggests that national flu vaccination programs should be expanded to include people aged 50 to 64 since they are routinely excluded in Australia.
“Extending the flu vaccination program to 50 to 64 year olds has been a policy debate in the past, but not considered to be cost effective,” said Professor Raina MacIntyre, lead author of the study.
“However, prevention of cardiovascular disease wasn’t taken into consideration in such estimates.”
They are also urging increased awareness among GPs and cardiologists of the link between the flu and heart attacks.
“Even if we didn’t vaccinate everyone over 50 years of age, influenza vaccination of people with a first heart attack could also have a significant impact, with high rates of subsequent acute coronary events in such patients,” says co-author, Dr Pramesh Kavoor.
“Doctors should consider vaccination of heart attack patients before hospital discharge and GPs could consider it for those who show other risks associated with heart disease.”
The article can be found at: MacIntyre et al. (2013) Ischaemic Heart Disease, Influenza And Influenza Vaccination: A Prospective Case Control Study.
Source: UNSW; Photo: .:[ Melissa ]:./Flickr/CC.
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