Every year, as the flu season approaches, our doctors and CDC experts recommend early flu vaccination. And millions of Americans ignore them. As a consequence, up to 39,000 people die from flu complications every year. The latest study by the scientists from TIMU Study Group and Network for Innovation in Clinical Research believe that this number goes up to 91,000 dead, if we count the number of people who died from heart attack and stroke triggered by the flu virus.
The link between flu and heart disease
Flu as a viral infection affects millions of people every year and for most it is just a nuisance, one week long agony that passes without serious consequences. But, for people with heart disease, flu increases risk of heart attack by 50 percent.
When attacked by flu virus, our body reacts by causing inflammation to protects itself and destroy the virus. That inflammation can cause plague, accumulated in the blood vessels, to explode, rupturing arterial wall.
Normal reaction of our body to ruptured wall is to heal it by forming a blood cloth. But, if it gets lose, that same cloth can obstruct the passage of blood through the artery, triggering a heart attack.
The scientists from the TIMU study group reviewed clinical trials which included more than 3000 patients, some with existing heart condition and other healthy. They found that people who received flu shot were 50 percent less likely to suffer heart attack than those who did not, regardless of pre-existing heart condition. More than 40 percent were less likely to die from the heart attack if they received flu shot that year.
Other benefits of a flu shot
Besides preventing a potential heart attack, a 2008 study shows that a flu shot also reduces your risk of pulmonary embolism, a formation of a blood cloth in the lungs, as well as deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in the legs. The risk is reduced by 48 percents in people younger than 52 who received the flu vaccine during the previous year.
Due to all these grim study findings, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued guidelines, which recommended yearly flu shots for all people older than six months, especially people with previous heart condition.
If you have never received flu vaccine, consult your doctor, to make sure that you do not have other health condition which puts you at risk.