A vaccination during flu season can lower the risk of death by 18% in individuals with high blood pressure, according to research presented Saturday at a summit of the world’s leading cardiologists in Paris.

Influenza infection is known to put stress on the cardiovascular system, and is seen as a potential trigger for heart attacks and strokes. Individuals with hypertension are at high risk for these outcomes.

In the study, investigators followed more than 600,000 individuals with the condition, aged 18 to 100 years old, for nine consecutive years. In a given influenza season, vaccination was associated with an 18% relative reduction in the risk of dying from all causes, a 16% relative reduction in the risk of dying from any cardiovascular cause, and a 10% relative reduction in the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.

The takeaway message from these results is to get vaccinated, said first author Daniel Modin, Ph.D., University of Copenhagen.

“Vaccination is safe, cheap, readily available, and decreases influenza infection. On top of that, our study suggests that it could also protect against fatal heart attacks and strokes, and deaths from other causes,” he added.

In an earlier study, Modin and colleagues found evidence that flu vaccination protects individuals with heart failure. The current study was nominated for a 2019 Young Investigator Award sponsored by the European Society of Cardiology.