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Study Reports Flu Vaccine Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Events

Update Date: Oct 22, 2013 04:02 PM EDT

With the start of the influenza season, government agencies and programs have pushed people to go get vaccinated. Despite their efforts, vaccination rates are still below the goal. Now, a new study on the flu vaccine might be just the incentive people need to get their shot. According to this study, researchers are reporting that the flu vaccine appears to be tied to reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or heart failure.

The research team, headed by Jacob A. Udell, MD, MPH, FRCPC, from the University of Toronto and colleagues, used a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of the flu vaccine on cardiovascular health. The researchers used a total of five published RCTs and one unpublished RCT, which total 6,735 participants. The patients had an average age of 67 with 51 percent being females. 36 percent had a history of cardiac issues. The average follow-up time was 7.9 months.

The researchers reported that from the five RCTs, 95 out of 3,238 patients, equivalent to 2.9 percent that received the flu vaccine went on to have a major adverse cardiovascular event. In the group that did not receive a flu vaccine, 151 out of 3,231 (4.7 percent) suffered a major adverse cardiovascular event. When the researchers looked into three subgroups of the RCTs and focused on patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease (CAD), they found that the vaccine reduced the risk of a cardiovascular event as well. 10.3 percent of the vaccinated group suffered from an event whereas 23.1 percent of the non-vaccinated group did.

"Within this global meta-analysis of RCTs that studied patients with high cardiovascular risk, influenza vaccination was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events within 1 year. Influenza vaccination was particularly associated with cardiovascular prevention in patients with recent ACS. Future research with an adequately powered multicenter trial to confirm the efficacy of this low-cost, annual, safe, easily administered, and well-tolerated therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk beyond current therapies is warranted," the authors concluded.

The study was published in JAMA

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