Flu Shot Linked to Lower Odds of Death in Heart Failure Patients

Heart failure patients who receive the influenza vaccination may reduce their risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, according to new research. 

Researchers evaluated nationwide registry data on all heart failure patients (n = 134,048) in Denmark aged older than 18 years who were diagnosed between Jan. 1, 2003, and June 1, 2015. Median follow-up time was 3.7 years. During the course of the study, vaccination coverage ranged from 16% to 54%. 

In unadjusted analyses, patients had an increased risk of death if they received one or more vaccinations during follow-up. However, in adjusted analysis (for inclusion date, comorbidities, medications, household income, and education level), patients who received one or more vaccinations had an 18% reduced mortality risk—both all-cause (hazard ratio [HR], 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81-0.84; P<0.001) and CVD (HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.81-0.84; P<0.001). Patients who received their vaccinations every year, were vaccinated earlier in the season (September to October), and had a greater cumulative number of vaccinations had lower mortality rates compared to those who received sporadic vaccines. 

During a mean follow-up of 3.7 years, 58% of the study cohort died due to any cause, and over a mean 3.3 years, 36% suffered cardiovascular-related mortality. 

The study results were published in Circulation. 

The researchers could not prove a causal link between the vaccine and survival, but the researchers still believe the results should encourage cardiologists to have their patients vaccinated. 

“Influenza immunization is inexpensive, quick, and I don’t think that cardiologists can do anything else to benefit their patients that has the immediate impact that influenza vaccination does or is as cheap. So I think every cardiologist ought to be doing this, starting the day after this paper is published,” William Schaffner, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, told MedPage Today. 

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Sources: CirculationMedPage Today