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Getting a Flu Shot May Protect Your Heart

20131205_flu_shotDid you get a flu shot this year? If you haven’t yet, here’s one more reason to consider it: Seasonal flu vaccinations may reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke or heart disease, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

More than 6,500 people in their 60s — one-third with a history of heart problems — participated in the survey, conducted by the University of Toronto.

Researchers found that just 10 percent of those with heart problems who received a flu shot later suffered another cardiovascular event; 23 percent of those who got a placebo shot had another cardiovascular event.

Lead survey author Jacob Udell notes that people who catch the flu are more likely to have heart disease, heart failure or a stroke, as the flu can trigger inflammation throughout the body, which may then exacerbate heart problems.

Ready to get your flu shot? Check out these tips:

  • Make sure you feel well the day you’re scheduled to receive a flu shot. If you’ve got a fever or flu-like symptoms, wait until you’re feeling better to get a flu shot.
  • Get vaccinated as early as possible. It can take two weeks after receiving the shot for your body to develop antibodies and protect you from the virus, so it’s best to get the shot once it’s available in the fall (usually September or October). However, flu season does not generally peak until January or February and can even last till May, so there’s still time to be vaccinated.
  • Check with your healthcare insurance provider before getting a flu shot. Many insurance companies cover the cost of flu shots or require a low copay. If you don’t have health insurance, you may be eligible for free vaccines through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Receive a flu shot every year to protect yourself. A flu vaccine only protects you for one season, as the flu strain is different each year. Make sure your body can fight the most current virus by getting a flu shot at the beginning of the fall season.

Learn more about the flu and the JAMA survey below!

Sources: Advisory.com, Flu.gov, JAMANetwork.com, Vaccines.gov


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