Researchers at the University of Lincoln claim the seasonal flu vaccine lowers the risk of first heart attack by almost 20%, especially if done in the fall.
As heart attacks increase in winter when pneumonia and flu are prevalent, it has been suggested there may be a link between respiratory infections and heart attacks.
Dr. Niroshan Siriwardena from the University of Lincoln studied over 78,000 patients over the age of 40 from 379 family practices in England and Wales.
Stella Gwini and Carol Coupland were co-authors of the year-long study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The study found that influenza vaccination within the past year was associated with a significantly reduced rate of heart attack.
Early vaccination for influenza (between September and mid-November) was associated with a higher (21%) reduction in the rate of heart attacks.
This compared with late vaccination which was associated with a 12% reduction.
“This benefit may lead to an increase in suboptimal rates of vaccination, particularly among younger patients,” Siriwardena wrote.