DID YOU KNOW...
Written by : John A. Sawdon, Public Education & Special Projects Director Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada
With the arrival of Autumn we experience falling temperatures, the magic of brilliant colours of leaves before they make their way to the ground and the perils of the flu season. Flu symptoms can include the Following:
The flu is difficult for everyone but can pose serious consequences for individuals with Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Congenital Heart Disease and those who have had a stroke.
“Among adults hospitalized with the flu during the 2015/2016 influenza season, heart disease was among the most commonly occurring chronic condition, 41% of adults hospitalized with the flu during the 2015/16 season had heart disease”(1). Research shows that influenza outbreaks are associated with a rise in deaths from heart disease and the flu can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Dr Madjid from the Texas Heart Institute studied deaths between 1993 and 2000 in St. Petersburg of the Russian Federation and found that peaks in deaths from acute myocardial infarction and chronic ischemic heart disease peaks during influenza epidemics. (2) Researchers believe that the Influenza contributes to heart attacks and strokes in two ways; the flu causes acute and severe inflammation in the body which, in some cases, destabilizes atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries. The inflammation leads to the rupture of these vulnerable plaques and the formation of clots which causes heart attacks and strokes. In the second way the flu can cause bacterial pneumonia. Pneumonia is a lung infection that prevents your lungs from getting enough oxygen into the blood, which then puts a strain on your heart. It means your heart has to work that much harder to pump blood through your lungs.
Influenza Vaccine May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease and Death
Dr. Jacob Udell a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital Toronto and University of Toronto & his team from TIMI Study Group & Network for Innovation in Clinical Research found that the flu vaccine provided approximately a 50% reduction in risk of a major cardiac event compared to placebo group after one year.(5) A similar trial also found a 40% reduction in death from any cause for those receiving a flu vaccine. Clinician’s have long noticed that 30% of heart attacks are preceded by upper respiratory infection that is consistent with influenza. Influenza vaccination was also associated with a 67% reduction in risk of heart attacks during influenza season. Two other related studies found a 49% reduction of out of hospital primary cardiac arrest and a 50% risk reduction in stroke risk for individuals receiving the influenza vaccination. (6)
Other Benefits of the Influenza Flu Vaccine:
How do Flu Vaccines Work and What do they protect against?
Flu vaccines usually take approximately 2 weeks to create anti-bodies. These anti-bodies then provide protection against infection with the viruses in the vaccine. Traditional Flu vaccines, called Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccines are made to protect you against 3 viruses:
There is also a New High Dose Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccines that was approved by Health Canada in 2016. This High Dose Trivalent Vaccine has been approved in the United States since 2009.
The High Dose Vaccine available in Canada is called:
There is also a Flu Vaccine that protects against a Fourth Virus. It is called Quadrivalent Vaccines. It protects against the above 3 viruses and also a second Influenza B Virus. The current quadrivalent inactivated Influenza vaccines available for use In Canada are (8):
Potential Influenza Inactivated Flu Vaccines Side Effects
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccine viruses have been “inactivated” and are not infectious. In the location where you are given your injection, it is possible for the following to occur:
Influenza Flu and Medication effect:
If you are on warfarin(which is a blood thinner) it is important to know that a cold or flu like symptoms can affect your blood clotting risk (INR). If you are sick and are on warfarin discuss monitoring your INR levels with your Doctor.
Six Steps to Staying Healthy (9)
We encourage you to either go to your Doctor for a flu vaccine shot or to one of the many pharmacists which provide free flu shots. If you are in doubt as to whether the flu shot is for you, discuss these concerns with your Doctor or Pharmacist. Our goal is to provide information so that you are informed and can raise questions and concerns with health practitioners. We hope this article is helpful and would love to receive your feedback. Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The articles, on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advice. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.