I recently had a patient tell me about their friend who had a heart attack shortly after having a flu shot, and this was their reason for not getting a flu shot: That the flu shot can cause heart attacks and strokes.
This is a great question. If I heard this story, I too might hold off on my flu shot.
Do immunizations rev up the immune system and this initiate heart attacks and strokes?
I wasn’t sure of this answer, so I went to Google….but not regular Google where you find all sorts of misinformation when you are looking to answer a scientific question: I went to Google Scholar.
For those who are not familiar, Google Scholar is a subset of Google that focuses on scientific and legitimate articles to eliminate the ‘trash’ on regular Google searches when you are trying to ask a more specific science question.
And, looking into this topic, I found a very specific answer to this question in an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
IN this 2004 article out of England, the researches did a population study and showed:
- Flu shots and other immunizations are NOT associated with heart attacks and strokes
- Infections (respiratory and urinary) are associated with an increased risk for subsequent heart attack stroke in the following several weeks
- The mechanism of action is presumed due to inflammation activation…but this is unknown.
Although these are not high likelihoods, we can confirm that taking a flu shot for heart and stroke patients: A: Is Safe and B: Will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by preventing infections.