Flu Vaccine Helps Adults Protect from Heart Attacks, Strokes

The flu vaccine can significantly lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and some other cardiovascular conditions for people at high risk, and this group underutilizes the flu vaccine, according to researchers who presented their data in an American Heart Association meeting on Monday.

These researchers found out that adults over 50 who were vaccinated with a flu shot during a hospitalization had a 28% lower risk of a heart attack the following year. They also had a 47% lower risk of a mini stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), 85% lower risk of cardiac arrest and 73% lower risk of overall death.

To arrive at this conclusion, the scientists looked at data from various hospitals where flu vaccine was administered to patients who are at high risk for flu and its complications.

People who are at high risk of flu infection include people over the age of 50, pregnant women, young children, people with diabetes, cancer, neurological conditions, HIV/AIDS patients, people in nursing homes and people who are obese.

Source: Fix

The data from the 2014 National Inpatient Sample, the largest database of US hospitals, revealed that only 168,325 patients were vaccinated during hospitalization out of more than 7 million high-risk patients that were hospitalized.

The team saw that only about 1.8% of hospitalized adults over the age of 50 were likely to be vaccinated during hospitalization compared to 15% of the general population.

All of the high-risk groups for flu had low vaccination rates, which is exact opposite of what the trend should be. Ideally, high risk groups should have the highest vaccination rates for flu.

During the 2018-19 flu season, about 45% of U.S. adults were vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers only looked at data from immunization records from hospitals. They say that it is possible that some people receive the flu vaccine in outpatient care, which is a limitation of this study.

Why Take A Flu Shot  

According to CDC, flu vaccine can seriously reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults. Widespread vaccine use can prevent thousands of flu infections each year. Like in year 2017-2018 flu shots prevented an estimated 91,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths.

Not only this, flu vaccine has been linked with many other health benefits as well. Along with being associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year, flu vaccination can also reduce worsening and hospitalization for flu-related chronic lung disease, such as in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Source: CDC

COPD can cause serious harm to respiratory system of humans and has been linked with serious health issues.

Flu vaccination can also reduce hospitalization rates in people who are diagnosed with diabetes and chronic lung disease. In another recent discovery, it was shown that flu shots are linked with reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

The Arguments Against Flu Vaccination

CDC advises everyone to get a flu shot each year. But many ignore this advice because of personal beliefs or choices. Most people argue that the vaccine is not effective. Though that is not true.

CDC data shows that the vaccine is effective in avoiding complications in 40 to 60 percent of the cases and 44 percent of the time a person can avoid an infection. But this effectivity can vary as every year the flu shot is different from the previous years because the virus mutates rapidly. Most people who do get vaccinated tend to get illnesses that are less severe.

Source: Vaccine Knowledge Project

Other people believe that the vaccine might give them the flu, which is also not true. The vaccine contains inactivated virus, which cannot cause an infection in humans.

Many others believe that they are healthy and can fight off an infection easily, so why bother. But it is important to understand that a flu infection can range from symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting, to serious complications.

These serious complications can include pneumonia, which can be serious. What everyone should consider is this. The combination of influenza and pneumonia was the eighth leading cause of death in 2016, killing 51,537 people that year, according to the CDC.

People who suffer from a flu infection are also more likely to suffer from heart attack and stroke as well.

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