For those Floridians who need one more reason for getting the flu vaccine this year, a new study suggests that the shot not only confers protection against influenza, but protects against an acute heart attack as well.
According to a case-control study of 559 individuals hospitalized in Australia published online August 22, 2013 in Heart, unvaccinated subjects almost twice as likely as vaccinated subjects to have an acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Consistent with other studies, principal investigator Dr. Raina MacIntyre of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and colleagues showed that influenza was a significant and unrecognized illness preceding AMI.
The data suggests that flu vaccination protects people with preexisting heart disease from having an acute heart attack. The question is whether the vaccine actually offers the same protection for those without vascular disease.
In 2012 at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, Dr. Jacob Udell at the University of Toronto, Ontario presented results of a meta-analysis of four studies involving 3227 patients indicating that vaccination against the flu reduced the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by almost half.
Dr. Udell acknowledged that the protective mechanism is still unclear and that a large scale multi-center study is needed to validate the conclusions.
In the meantime, as the new flu seasons approaches, it’s time to make an appointment with your physician to get the vaccine. While seasonal flu activity generally peaks in January or February, it can occur as early as October. The first lots of the flu vaccine for 2013-2014 have already been released by the Food and Drug Administration, and are being shipped to clinics, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and other sites.
According to the CDC, manufacturers have projected that they will produce between 135 million and 139 million doses of influenza vaccine for use in the United States during the upcoming influenza season. An estimated 30 million to 32 million of these doses will be quadrivalent flu vaccine. The rest will be trivalent flu vaccine.