Receiving flu vaccine while hospitalized reduces heart attack risk

Influenza vaccination administered during a hospital stay can lower the likelihood of heart attack, according research that will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session.

Researchers examined medical records for 30 million U.S. adults using the National Inpatient Sample dataset. Each patient had visited a hospital at least once in 2014. The researchers sorted patients into two groups: those who received a flu vaccination during hospitalization and those who did not.

The study shows 2 percent of patients received a flu shot while hospitalized. Of the 98 percent who did not receive the vaccine, 4 percent had a heart attack or unstable angina versus 3 percent of those who had received the shot.

The researchers adjusted for several confounding variables and found vaccination was associated with a 10 percent reduction in heart attack risk.

"By getting the flu vaccine, you can help to prevent this cascade of events from taking place and, thus, prevent a heart attack," said Mariam Khandaker, MD, internal medicine resident at New York City-based Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai West and the study's lead author. "While a person can still contract some strains of influenza even after getting a flu shot, the vaccine can lower the severity of the illness and, thus, still potentially help to prevent a heart attack."

The study did not factor in overall heart health, which the authors hope to examine further in the future.

The American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session will take place, March 16 to March 18, in New Orleans.

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