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October 24, 2013
Getting your flu shot this year may do more than just protect you from a runny nose and sore throat. A new study published in the Journal for the American Medical Association suggests that flu vaccinations may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Charlie Lowenstein is the chief of cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in western New York.
He says no one knows why the flu can be bad for your heart, but there are some strong theories suggesting it can.
One theory, he says, is that it causes your whole body to swell, not just your lungs and throat, and this would make your arteries and blood vessels more narrow than normal.
“So there’s speculation that the flu, at a very low level, might be doing this, inflaming your blood vessels or actually predisposing them to form blood clots which can cause heart attacks or strokes.”
Lowenstein says the study from researchers in Toronto was a review of results from past trials involving more than 6,700 patients.
He says more research needs to be done before the link can be proven, but it’s another reason people should get their shots.