Nearly half of Americans have heart disease and are at increased risk of stroke. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death. Many adults take low-dose aspirin with the hope of preventing a heart attack or stroke.

Some have asked whether there are other preventative measures they should take, especially knowing that heart disease risk increases with age. They’re surprised to hear there’s a vaccine that prevents heart attacks and strokes that has been available for years.

It turns out that the flu greatly increases the risk of heart attack. Researchers tested nearly 150,000 people with respiratory illnesses and found that those with the flu were six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week they were diagnosed.

The connection has become clear. Infections trigger an inflammatory response that helps fight the illness but can cause other problems. For example, platelets become stickier and form clots that block blood flow. Blocking blood flow to the heart or brain causes a heart attack or stroke.

The flu also can lead to a bacterial pneumonia by damaging the lung. Pneumonia puts additional strain on the body, especially the heart, which worsens any preexisting heart disease.

The flu vaccine, by decreasing the risk and severity of illness along with the chance of developing pneumonia, leads to 30 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks. Vaccination is on par or better than commonly known preventive measures, such as cholesterol-lowering medications, 36 percent reduction, blood-pressure medications, 15 to 18 percent reduction, and smoking cessation, 26 percent reduction. The flu vaccine is even more beneficial in older adults. The flu vaccine designed for seniors reduces hospitalizations for heart attacks and strokes by 90 percent.

As an aside, anyone considering starting low-dose aspirin should discuss it with their health care professional as the recommendations have recently changed, taking certain risk factors and age into account.

If you want to decrease your chance of a heart attack or stroke, get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and get your annual flu vaccine. ‘Tis the season for flu vaccination.

Vaccine Smarts is written by Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences faculty members Drs. Megan Berman, an associate professor of internal medicine, and Richard Rupp, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch. For questions about vaccines, email


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(8) comments

Michelle Aycoth

Very misleading

Chris Donatelle

AGREE ... wonder who is paying for this "study" and why was it not properly sited.. ??

Chris Donatelle

* Cited not Sited ): [whistling]

Chris Donatelle

This will be known as the Burman - Rupp study like Purdu Pharmas fake sites for OXY saying it was less than 1% addictive ... (it was not a clinical trial just an EDITORAL like this ...) :) Must read the book or watch Dopesick on HULU and FX if you are even thinking of calling yourself a doctor or a researcher .... They even made up things like "Breakthrough pain" and "Pain is the 5th vital sign" "individualize the dose"... WOW


Sadly still taught to this day to the Unknowing medical community ... MAYO CLINIC blew the whistle but were dismissed as county doctors ... MAYO is one of the finest medical facilities IN THE WORLD ..... KNOW YOUR SOURCES.... and Follow the money ..THIS IS NOT COOL time to make a change one person at a time ... The more you know...

Bailey Jones

Actually Chris, this study was a meta-analysis of 16 random and controlled studies of heart attacks in flu patients.

The actual study referenced is here -

A plain English explanation of it is here -

Chris Donatelle

Thank you for citing correctly after requested..... and then MANSPLANING IT for me MR JONES

Chris Donatelle

I have been Published in AHA ,.,,, Have you??

Chris Donatelle

NOPE not referenced or CITED correctly .. the link provided is NOT for MI vaccine that this ARTICLE is about... it is for COVID and FLU VACCINE combinations PLEASE I BEG YOU TO STOP THE LIES !!!! YOU CAN LOOSE YOUR LICENCE TO PRACTICE -- FIRST DO NO HARM !

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