Flu jab is better for your ticker than quitting fags
Lead researcher Professor Raina MacIntyre, from the University of New South Wales, said anyone with a family history of poor heart health or who had other risk factors should get vaccinated.
She said the flu shot also protected people, including young people, who had artery damage that wasn’t enough to cause a heart attack on its own but when added to a bout of the flu could turn deadly.
The study found a significant association between influenza infection and heart attack with heart attack patients twice as likely to have recently had the flu.
Anti-cholesterol medicines, such as statins, have an efficacy of about 25 per cent.
Anti-hypertensive medi- cation, which treat high blood pressure, reduce the risk of a heart attack by about 15-18 per cent while stopping smoking decreases chances of a heart attack by 26 per cent, Prof MacIntyre said.
“Those kinds of efficacy rates are very good, we consider those worthwhile interventions. So in that context when you look at the results of our study, flu vaccines certainly look worthwhile as adding to the spectrum of available preventive options that we have to reduce the burden of heart disease,” she said.
Previous research suggested the flu vaccine could lower the risk of a heart attack by as much as 45 per cent.
Prof MacIntyre said unfortunately the rate of vacci- nation among people with cardiovascular disease was only about 30 per cent.
“For people who are at risk of heart attack because of a family history or smoking or high cholesterol or high blood pressure, getting vaccinated is certainly something they should consider,” she said.
Flu vaccines are free for people aged over 65 but Prof MacIntyre said this age range should be lowered to over-50s given the study’s findings.