A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds that among patients with a high risk for heart disease, the influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of major cardiovascular events. The greatest benefits were found among patients with highly active coronary disease.

The meta-analysis looked at 6,375 patients with an average age of 67, more than a third of which had a history of heart disease. The researchers compared high-risk patients who had received the influenza vaccine with those who received either a placebo or no treatment.

The results showed that influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of cardiac events (2.9% compared to 4.7%). The study’s researchers reported that the influenza vaccine can help protect vulnerable patients from certain forms of cardiac injury that could lead to life-threatening cardiovascular events such as heart failure, stroke, unstable angina and cardiovascular death.

“With the arrival of flu season, it is time to get on the flu vaccine bandwagon! It is well known that flu vaccines decrease the chance of influenza infection,” said Dr. Michael Chen, cardiologist at Washington Adventist and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. “However, this recent study now shows that for flu vaccines, there likely are cardiac benefits as well. I would recommend that all adults with heart disease or at high risk for heart disease obtain the flu vaccine.”

This season, Adventist HealthCare is offering flu shots for adults and children at nearly 50 sites throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland and surrounding communities.