Flu May Raise Heart Attack Risk
People With Heart Disease Risk Factors Should Get Flu Vaccine, Experts Say
April 18, 2007 -- Flu may make fatal heart attacks or other heart disease
deaths more likely, a new study shows.
People at risk for heart disease should get flu vaccinations, write the
They included Mohammad Madjid, MD, of Houston's University of Texas Health
Science Center and Texas Heart Institute.
They studied fatal heart attacks and other heart disease deaths in St.
Petersburg, Russia. Less than 3% of St. Petersburg residents got flu shots
during the years studied (1993-2000).
St. Petersburg's autopsy records show nearly 12,000 fatal heart attacks and
23,000 heart disease deaths during the study.
Study's Findings, Limits
Fatal heart attacks and other heart disease deaths increased during flu
epidemics in St. Petersburg, the researchers report.
That pattern held regardless of sex or age of people at least 50 years
But the study, published in the European Heart Journal, doesn't prove
that flu caused fatal heart attacks or other heart disease deaths.
For instance, the researchers don't know the medical history, medications,
or heart risks of the people who died of heart attacks or other types of heart
disease -- or whether those people actually had the flu about the time of
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recently
recognized the benefit of flu vaccination for cardiovascular patients, note
Madjid and colleagues.
The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for the following groups of
- Children aged 6 months to 5 years
- Pregnant women
- People at least 50 years old
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Household contacts of people at high risk of flu complications
- People living with or caring for children less than 6 months old
- Health care workers
The flu vaccine is also an option for people aged 5-49, notes the CDC.