Far from causing mysterious illnesses, vaccines prevent common ones. Most people don’t get the pneumonia vaccine; but for those that do, their risk of heart attack plummets by more than 50%.
PRINCE.EDWARD.ISLAND (CBC) – Pneumonia vaccine not only prevents bacterial infection but the injection also seems to dramatically lower the risk of heart attacks in adults, a Canadian study suggests.
Pneumococcal or pneumonia vaccination was associated with a decrease of more than 50 per cent in the rate of heart attacks after two years, Dr. Danielle Pilon of the University of Sherbrooke and her colleagues reported in Tuesday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The researchers compared hospital records for about 1,000 people who had suffered a heart attack with about 4,000 who did not but were at high risk for one. Participants had a mean age of about 60.
“We compared the vaccination rates of the two groups to find that the patients who did end up getting a heart attack were less likely to have been vaccinated,” study author Dr. François Lamontagne said.
The researchers knew the vaccination could change one of the steps involved in atherosclerosis – the buildup of cholesterol, fat, calcium from the blood on the inside of arteries that can harden and potentially lead to heart attacks or strokes.
“The hypothesis was that if the vaccination can alter one of the steps in atherosclerosis formation, perhaps it could decrease the risk of heart attack,” said Pilon. “And this is what we found.”
It’s almost time to get a flu shot and it’s time to think about getting a pneumonia shot. The pneumonia immunization lasts a lifetime.
Pneumococcal vaccination and risk of myocardial infarction
François Lamontagne MD MSc, Marie-Pierre Garant PhD, Jean-Christophe Carvalho MD, Luc Lanthier MD MSc, Marek Smieja MD PhD, Danielle Pilon MD MSc
Background: Based on promising results from laboratory studies, we hypothesized that pneumococcal vaccination would protect patients from myocardial infarction.
Methods: We conducted a hospital-based case-control study that included patients considered to be at risk of myocardial infarction. We used health databases to obtain hospital diagnoses and vaccination status. We compared patients who had been admitted for treatment of myocardial infarction with patients admitted to a surgical department in the same hospital for a reason other than myocardial infarction between 1997 and 2003.
Results: We found a total of 43 209 patients who were at risk; of these, we matched 999 cases and 3996 controls according to age, sex and year of hospital admission. Cases were less likely than controls to have been vaccinated (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.40-0.70). This putative protective role of the vaccine was not observed for patients who had received the vaccine up to 1 year before myocardial infarction (adjusted OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.54-1.33). In contrast, if vaccination had occurred 2 years or more before the hospital admission, the association was stronger (adjusted OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.20-0.46).
Interpretation: Pneumococcal vaccination was associated with a decrease of more than 50% in the rate myocardial infarction 2 years after exposure. If confirmed, this association should generate interest in exploring the putative mechanisms and may offer another reason to promote pneumococcal vaccination.