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Flu Shots and Heart Attacks

Major health organizations recommend heart disease patients get a flu shot to lessen their chances of cardiac arrest.

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Many people don't like shots. The idea of having a sharp object jammed into your arm -- or elsewhere -- can be less than comforting. Yet there are plenty of good reasons to grin and bear it, like wanting to remain free of nasty health conditions like the measles and dengue fever. But the flu vaccination has another nice benefit: It may help your heart.

Medical researchers say that getting annual flu shots can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by more than 50 percent in people who've already had at least one heart attack. Some experts surmise that the vaccine helps protect "vulnerable plaque" in the body from flu-caused inflammation that can later cause cardiac problems. Others say the flu virus's side effects -- coughing, low blood pressure -- can put strain on the heart and cause cardiac distress. Major health groups recommend heart disease patients get the flu vaccine [source: Hellmich].

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