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Your Flu Shot May Also Help Your Heart

Study found one-third lower risk of problems including heart attacks in vaccinated people

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"We would like to do a randomized clinical trial so that a skeptical public can put the issue to rest," Udell said.

The researchers believe that the vaccine protects against heart disease by preventing influenza and its accompanying inflammation. "When you get the flu, the body mounts an inflammatory response. Those aches and pains you feel with the flu are part of the immune response. That inflammation may trigger plaques in the arteries to erupt," Udell explained.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, agreed that preventing the inflammation associated with the flu is the likely reason that getting a flu vaccine reduces the risk of heart problems.

"People always ask me what they can do for themselves. I say get a flu shot; it will protect your heart, too. This study provides a compelling argument for getting the shot," Steinbaum said.

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