New research suggests that a simple flu-jab may help protect middle-aged people against heart attacks.
The research from Australian scientists suggests that people who have had the vaccination are 45% less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who didn’t receive the jab.
The NHS already offers people with chronic heart disease the vaccination but could now face calls to extend it to everyone aged 50-64. With an estimated 500,000 people in the UK with narrowed arteries it could hail significant health gains for many.
The study looked at 275 patients in Sydney who had suffered a heart attack, comparing them with 284 outpatients of a similar age. More than 12 per cent of the heart attack patients had recently had flu, compared with just under 7 per cent in the comparison group. Half of all the patients had had the flu jab that year.
While the research showed that flu did not increase the risk of a heart attack, after adjusting for variables such as age, sex, smoking and high cholesterol, they concluded that the vaccination cut the chance of having a heart attack by 45 per cent, “Even a small effect of influenza vaccination in preventing heart attacks may have significant population health gains.”
Whilst the research raises many questions there is not currently enough evidence about the link between the flu jab and heart attack to change the current NHS guidelines.