A new study from the European Society of Cardiology has found that influenza and pneumonia vaccinations are associated with fewer hospital deaths in patients with heart failure, according to a press release.

The objective of the study was to examine whether immunizations had any link with the risk of heart failure patients dying while in the hospital, since few studies have compared the outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated patients, according to the researchers.

The study included approximately 2.9 million patients with heart failure who had a hospital admission between 2010 and 2014, with an average age of 70 years. The data were obtained from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS), according to the study authors.

The results showed that just 1.4% of patients in the study had the flu vaccine and 1.4% had the pneumonia vaccine. The researchers then compared in-hospital death rates between heart failure patients who received flu and pneumonia vaccinations that year and those who did not.

Rates of in-hospital mortality were significantly lower in patients who received the flu vaccine (1.3%) compared with those who did not (3.6%), according to the study authors. Further, rates of in-hospital mortality were significantly lower in patients inoculated against pneumonia (1.2%) compared with those who were not (3.6%).

“Our study provides further impetus for annual immunizations in patients with heart failure,” said study author Karthik Gonuguntla, MD, in a press release. “Despite advice to do so, uptake remains low. Although large administrative databases like the NIS are prone to containing some errors, the data indicate that there is some distance to go before reaching 100% coverage.”

Further, Gonuguntla noted that serious reactions to flu and pneumonia vaccinations are very rare, happen within a few hours, and can be effectively treated.

“Pneumonia and flu vaccines are vital to preventing these respiratory infections and protecting patients with heart failure,” Gonuguntla said. “Although many people have rejected common and safe vaccines before COVID-19, I am optimistic that the pandemic has changed perceptions about the role of immunizations in safeguarding our health.”

Vaccines against respiratory infections linked with less heart failure deaths. European Society of Cardiology. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Vaccines-against-respiratory-infections-linked-with-less-heart-failure-deaths. Published August 28, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2020.