This year's public service announcements urging people to get a flu shot might have just gotten some extra ammo: New research suggests the shots not only help ward off the flu but protect the heart as well, reports the LA Times. An analysis of previous studies found that 3% of people who got the flu vaccine went on to have some kind of "cardiovascular event," as opposed to 5% who got a placebo, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That is, those who got flu shots reduced their risk by about a third of having a heart attack.
"If there are those out there who for whatever reason don't get the flu shot or don't feel that they need it … this is one more reason why they might help," the lead researcher tells Reuters. So what's going on? WebMD explains a leading theory: The flu triggers an inflammatory immune response in the body, and that inflammation could spell trouble for arteries, especially ones already compromised. If the shot keeps the flu away, all that is avoided. The researchers say those who already have heart disease should be especially vigilant about getting the yearly flu vaccine. (Read more flu shot stories.)