Added Benefits of a Flu Shot

The ushering in of the holiday season and the cold approach of winter also signals the arrival of the flu season, when cases of influenza truly begin to increase in frequency and severity.

For years, physicians and health care professionals have urged everyone six months and older to get an annual flu shot and benefit from the added layer of protection the inoculation provides (in addition to good hygiene practices).

However, according to a recent study published in Scientific Reports, a flu vaccination can bring added benefits to those who get the annual jab: a two-fold decrease in one’s risk of a heart attack.

In a study reviewing of more than 9,000 participants averaging 61 years of age, those who received the flu vaccine measured a decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack by 26 percent. Additionally, those who may suffer a heart attack benefit from a 33 percent lowered risk of cardiovascular death.

While the immune system battles an influenza infection, added stress is placed on the body and can affect blood pressure and heart function. For someone living with one of the many forms of heart disease, this added strain can result in potentially serious complications.

While flu activity occurs throughout the year, cases routinely peak between December and February, causing symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Body/Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

When infected with the virus, the annual flu vaccination can reduce the risk of illness by 40 to 60 percent, while also further lowering the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 1 billion flu cases each year, further estimating that 3 to 5 million of those cases become severe.

In the United States, as of Dec. 1, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 1.8 million flu cases, 17,000 hospitalizations, and, unfortunately, 1,100 flu-related deaths.