Flu shots cut risk of heart attacks

PEOPLE at high risk of heart disease are being urged to get the flu shot, with research suggesting it could halve their risk of heart attack.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia is concerned too few people know the real risks of contracting influenza, especially those with heart conditions.

"People who have a heart condition are at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population," the Heart Foundation's national cardiovascular health director, Dr Robert Grenfell, said yesterday.

"The flu is more than a bad cold. Influenza is a potentially fatal disease. Common symptoms are similar to a cold, but last longer and are more severe.

"Some symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and pain, a fever and coughing.'

Dr Grenfell said there was a "plethora of research" that showed the influenza vaccine provided protection against heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death globally and in Australia.

Evidence also showed those who were at high risk and who caught the flu, were less likely to suffer a heart attack if they had been vaccinated.

He said some medicines used to relieve flu symptoms could interact with medicines prescribed for heart conditions.

"People's blood pressure varies with changes in temperature and for those with existing heart conditions, a change in blood pressure can put the body under extra strain, leading to a greater risk of heart attack or stroke," he said.



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