Flu shots not only protect the human population from the influenza virus but also from the increased risk of deaths due to high blood pressure, research says.
Although flu is one of those common illnesses which people usually ignore. However, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, there are 960,000 cases of influenza of which 79,000 die every year.
Flu is a type of illness which could easily trigger the risk of stroke and heart attack in the cardiovascular and hypertension patients.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen confirmed their findings by studying 608,452 patients. All of the participants aged 18 to 100 and were the patients of hypertension from consecutive nine flu seasons.
Researchers shared their findings at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology conference. The conference took place in Paris, France.
The research was also nominated for 2019 Young Investigator Award funded by the European Society of Cardiology. The findings of the study appear in European Society of Cardiology journal.
Tracking the participants’ health from 2007 to 2016
Researchers followed up the health status of participants from 2007 to 2016, for nine consecutive flu seasons. On observing, they found out that the vaccination reduced the risk of death by 18 % in most of them.
The research team divided the study into two parts by tracking the health status and reduction in death before the flu season and during the flu season. This 18% reduction was from all possible causes of death.
Researchers observed approximately a 16% reduction in patients of cardiovascular death. They also observed that the risk of stroke and heart attack dropped to 10%.
The body starts preparing antibodies after 2 weeks of getting the flu shots against the virus in it. The team considered all the possible factors which might affect the result of the study like socioeconomic status, age, medication, mental and health status.
They examined the effectiveness of the findings by giving the flu shots during the influenza season and before it began. Daniel Modin was the lead author of the research. He believes that the findings are only effective if people start getting themselves vaccinations before the flu season.
What message do researchers have for the people?
According to pre-existing research, flu puts the immune system under stress triggering heart attacks and strokes. A strong immune response against the infection could trigger acute inflammation. Acute inflammation may lead the person to a heart attack or stroke.
The lead author, Modin, explains that heart attacks and strokes are mainly due to the rupturing of atherosclerotic plaques. The arteries which flow blood to heart or brain are more to built plaques in them.
The rupturing of the plaques may prove to be fatal as it cuts off the blood supply by forming a clot. Researchers think that high acute inflammation due to influenza increases the chances of rupturing of the atherosclerotic plaques.
According to the outcomes of the study, hypertension patients could show great improvement in their cardio health by getting early vaccination.
Researchers highly recommend cardio and hypertension patients to get vaccinated before the influenza season every year. As per the analysis, only 26% to 36% of the participants vaccinated themselves during the nine-year study period. This means that there are many people with high blood pressure who are living without flu shots.
As vaccinations are cheap and readily available, people should consider getting flu shots as prevention against fatal heart attacks and strokes.