Women's College Research Institute

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Flu vaccine may reduce cardiovascular risk

November 2013

Dr. Jacob UdellThe flu vaccine may not only ward off serious complications from influenza, but it may also reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to new research led by Dr. Jacob Udell, a research fellow at Women’s College Research Institute and a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital. Udell found that for those who received the flu shot, the risk of heart attack or stroke dropped by more than 50 per cent among those who had a recent heart attack (within the last year).

His findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and have received extensive coverage by media outlets including The Star, CBC, CTV News, and The New York Times.

“If the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of cardiac events, these shots could have considerable impact on cardiac health,” says Udell.

The study reviewed six clinical trials on heart health in people who received the flu vaccine, and included more than 6,700 patients with a history of heart disease.

A large prospective clinical trial is still necessary to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the influenza vaccine as a therapy for people with heart disease. Udell and his team are now in the midst of organizing such a trial.

 “Hundreds of thousands of people die each year from cardiac causes in North America,” says Udell. “While preventative care involves lifestyle changes and medication, soon we may also be able to tell patients that getting your flu shot may save your life.”

View Udell’s article in the Journal of the American Medical Association


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