Take Heart: Flu Shot May Have Added Benefit
Posted December 8, 2003 12:54 p.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — It is a given that getting a flu shot helps protect against from the flu. It could also help keep your heart healthy.
A quick shot in the arm is incentive enough for some people to get a flu shot.
Louise Dail has even more reason to get one. She has heart disease.
For years, cardiologists recommended patients get the vaccine so they did not get the flu. Now, research suggests the vaccine may actually help prevent another heart attack, in some cases, by up to 67 percent.
The theory makes sense to Raleigh cardiologist Dr. Robert Bruner.
"I pretty much think it has [made sense] for cardiologists for a long time," he said.
Experts believe the flu increases inflammation in the arteries, which can trigger a heart attack. Preventing the flu keeps that from happening.
Research into flu shots and heart disease is only beginning. Formal studies are needed to confirm the link.
Doctors also want to find out if the vaccine helps protect everyone from heart disease.
"That's what's coming I think. That's the next avenue that they'll explore," Bruner said.
If so, a $15 flu shot could be an inexpensive way to protect the heart.
"That's cheaper than any cardiac medicine I can prescribe," Bruner said.
Dail also buys into the theory and has had her annual flu shot.