The British Heart Foundation is urging people with heart and circulatory disease to get vaccinated against the flu.

The call comes on the back of research published in The Lancet indicating that flu vaccines can cut the risk of cardiovascular death in people with coronary heart disease by 24%.

The charity said it believes last year’s flu season may have been to blame for an extra 7,400 deaths from heart attacks and strokes in winter 2016/2017, when the vaccine on offer was not as effective as in previous years.

It also noted that evidence shows heart attacks happen more often during or immediately after an infection such as flu, and that during three-day cold spells, heart attacks and strokes are almost twice as likely as during shorter colder periods.

“Getting your flu vaccine really is a no brainer. If you have heart and circulatory disease and don’t get your flu jab, you could be putting yourself at serious risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said the charity’s senior cardiac nurse Maureen Talbot.