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Flu Shots Lower Risk of Blood Clots
Date:11/9/2008

Study found getting one reduced chances by 26%

SUNDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People who get their annual flu shot may reap an extra benefit: a reduction in their risk of developing a blood clot.

The benefit appeared stronger in those under the age of 52, according to research that was presented Sunday at the American Heart Association's annual scientific sessions, in New Orleans.

The findings, the first to demonstrate such an effect, may help explain why the flu shot lessens the risk of cardiovascular events in people with coronary artery disease, but the real current value of the data may lie in it convincing more people to get their annual shot.

"This kind of data is super helpful to me with patients in the clinic, particularly if they've had a blood clot," said Dr. Ann Bolger, the William Watt Kerr professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said during a news conference on Sunday. "It's another nail to hammer on."

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) refers to the development of a blood clot in a vein. Such a clot can be life-threatening if breaks off and travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Experts had previously known that the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people with coronary artery disease, but it wasn't clear why.

"We had interesting epidemiological data before that flu increased cardiovascular deaths, but we didn't know where from," Bolger said. "This interesting observation implies that if you get the flu shot and avoid infection, you're less likely to get clots in the veins and arteries."

The authors compared 727 patients with one documented episode of VTE (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) and no history of cancer within the past five years (cancer is a risk factor for clots) with an equal number of controls with no history of clots.

Participants filled out questionnaires rega
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