Flu Shots May Do More Than Prevent The Flu


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                We talked about flu shots in class this semester, and learned that they are definitely effective in preventing the influenza virus.  What we didn't learn, though, is that the flu vaccine may have some other benefits.  One significant benefit of the flu shot is heart attack prevention.  That's right; the flu shot has been linked to lesser chances of heart attacks.

CardioSmart-FluShot-540x190.jpg

                Although it may seem like a strange correlation, heart attacks are often activated by the flu virus.  Research shows that approximately 91,000 Americans suffer from heart attacks and strokes caused by the flu each year.  A 2010 study also determined that patients over 40 who had received a flu shot had a 20 percent less chance of having a first heart attack (Cool).  Another similar study was conducted in the UK, and had similar results.  The study examined 16,000 people over 40 who had suffered a heart attack in their lifetime and 62,700 who had not.  When they compared patients in each group who had received the vaccination to those who had not, the results showed a 19 percent less chance of heart attack to the patients who had been given the shot.  They even took into account outside factors such as high cholesterol diet and smoking to avoid confounding variables (Norton).  Though it cannot be proven that this correlation equals causation, the results are still pretty startling.

                What people need to understand about this study is that the flu vaccine does not directly prevent heart attacks.  There is nothing in the shot that fights heart problems, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't help.  The way the flu shot may stop heart attacks is by stopping the thing that triggers these heart attacks.  That thing, in this case, is the influenza virus.  The flu can activate a heart attack by increasing inflammation that causes blood clots (Norton).  By reducing the chances of this inflammation, the patient then reduces the risk of a clot to the heart.  The flu shot has also been linked to preventing other health problems such as strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and deep vein thrombosis (Cool).  Here is a quick news clip discussing the findings.  It is surprising that such a common vaccine can have so many more potential benefits than once thought.  From stopping a simple wintertime virus to possibly preventing a life threatening condition, the flu shot may be more useful than you think.  If more people knew this important information, maybe they wouldn't be so quick to skip their annual flu vaccine this year, and maybe we'd see a few less heart attack- related deaths this winter.  Everyone (especially those with pre-existing heart conditions) go out and get your flu shot this winter; it may end up saving your life!


Works Cited:

Norton, Amy. "Flu Shot Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk." Reuters. Thomson      Reuters, 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 03 Dec. 2012. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/20/us-flu-shot-idUSTRE68J3RU20100920>.



Cool, Lisa C. "The Shot That Prevents Heart Attacks." Yahoo! Health. N.p., n.d. Web.     03 Dec. 2012.

 <http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/shot-prevents-heart-attacks>.


4 Comments

I don't know why the link did that I tried to fix it but it didn't work. I'm going to try to fix it and repost this blog asap!

I don't know why the link did that I tried to fix it but it didn't work. I'm going to try to fix it and repost this blog asap!

Just went back and tried to fix it again but it still didn't work. I know I put the link in correctly, but it keeps doing this. I never had this problem before so I'm confused, but the link still works so I guess I'll just leave it like this. Sorry guys!

Before this year in Science 200, I was very unsure about how I felt about the flu shot. My mother never had us get them because she thinks our bodies can fight off the flu naturally and many times people get flu-like symptoms after receiving the vaccination. This article just made my opinion of the flu shot even more concrete that it is a good thing because it even has secondary beneficial qualities. By preventing the flu, we're also preventing results from the flu, like an increased chance of heart attack. My question about this study is why the flu increases chance of a heart attack. Is it because the immune system is just down? Our body isn't functioning up to par?

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