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Coming Soon: Vaccine for Heart Disease

Update Date: Oct 22, 2014 02:12 PM EDT

The mysterious mechanism behind flu vaccines protecting against heart disease may have finally been unravelled, paving the way for further research to develop a vaccine for heart disease.

That flu shots reduce heart disease risk was well known but the molecular working was not understood, until now. Researchers in Serbia have shown that some antibodies produced as a result of vaccines, could activate proteins which initiate cellular processes that can protect the heart, Zee News reported.

"Even though the protective effect of the flu vaccine against heart disease has been known for some time, there is very little research out there looking at what causes it. Our proposed mechanism could potentially be harnessed in a vaccine against heart disease, and we plan to investigate this further," said study's lead author Dr. Veljko Veljkovic at the Institute Vinca, Belgrade, according to a press release.

The researchers identified that a protein bradykinin-2 receptor was turned on by antibodies produced by vaccines, Daily News & Analysis reported. Of the 14 viruses that researchers analysed, four viruses could be used for making a heart disease vaccine.

Studies in the past have shown that those who get flu shots have a 50 percent reduced risk of heart disease in the following year, compared to those who did not receive shots. Researchers hope that their findings would lead to increased administration of vaccines.

"The rate of administering flu vaccinations is disappointingly low, even in developed countries. We hope that our results will encourage more people to get vaccinated before the flu season starts," Dr. Veljkovic said.

Cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease are the leading cause of death. Though onset of disease can be delayed or even prevented with diet and lifestyle changes, along with medication, a vaccine can effectively cut down mortality and spending on CVDs. 

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