Regular Flu Vaccines: Helping Patients with Heart Failure?

DECEMBER 11, 2018
Getting an annual influenza vaccine may help save heart failure patients’ lives, according to data published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation

Daniel Modin, an investigator from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and other researchers analyzed data on 134,048 patients with newly diagnosed heart failure over a 12-year period. Flu vaccination rates ranged from 16% in 2003 to 52% in 2015 with a peak of 54% in 2009. Among the researchers’ findings:
  • Flu vaccination was associated with an 18% reduced risk of premature death, even after accounting for other factors such as medications, other health conditions, income and education.
  • Annual flu vaccination following a heart failure diagnosis was associated with a 19% reduction in both all-cause and cardiovascular death when compared with no vaccination.
  • Flu vaccination frequency mattered; getting a flu shot less than once per year but more than not at all was associated with a 13% reduced risk of all-cause death and an 8% reduced risk of cardiovascular death.
  • Timing mattered; there was a greater reduction in cardiovascular and all-cause death when vaccination occurred earlier in the flu season during September and October versus in November and December. 
Modin explained in a statement on the study that while this research only looked at patients with newly-diagnosed heart failure, the protection from a flu shot likely benefits any patient with heart failure.

“Recent studies have indicated that the influenza vaccination coverage of patients with heart failure is inadequate,” said Modin. “I hope that our study can assist in making physicians and cardiologists who care for patients with heart failure aware of how important influenza vaccination is for their patients. Influenza vaccination may be regarded as a standard treatment in heart failure similar to medications.”

Reference
Modin D, Jørgensen  M. Gislason G, et al. Influenza Vaccine in Heart Failure: Cumulative Number of Vaccinations, Frequency, Timing, and Survival: A Danish Nationwide Cohort Study. Circulation. 2018;139:00–00. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.036788. 
 

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