Getting the flu vaccine could be life saving for patients with heart failure, based on a recent study that found the flu vaccine reduces risk of death by 18% in heart failure patients, with even greater benefits in patients who got the flu shot regularly.
Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, this study compared survival rates among heart failure patients with and without the flu vaccine. It included more than 134,000 Danish adults, all of who were diagnosed with heart failure between 2003 and 2015 and part of the national patient registry in Denmark.
The goal of the study was to see whether the flu shot—which can help prevent or lessen the effects of the flu—boosts heart failure survival.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Since patients with heart failure already have compromised health, the flu can be especially dangerous when contracted. Studies suggest that the flu vaccine can help prevent life-threatening complications in vulnerable populations.
To help explore the benefits of the flu vaccine, researchers tracked participants’ health, vaccinations and survival for up to seven years. During this time, flu vaccination rates ranged anywhere from 16–54% each year.
After taking into account factors like age, income and health, researchers found that receiving at least one flu vaccination during the study period reduced risk of death by 18%. However, benefits were even greater in patients who got the flu vaccine each year. Risk reductions were also greater in participants who got the vaccination earlier in the year (September and October) compared with later in the flu season.
What findings show, according to authors, is the importance of the flu vaccine in patients with heart failure. Organizations like the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association already encourage the flu vaccine in patients with heart failure. This study confirms that getting the flu shot could be lifesaving for heart failure patients.
Of course, it’s always important to consult your doctor to ensure that getting the flu shot is right for you. But chances are, getting vaccinated each year before flu season is here can help reduce your chances of getting the flu. For patients with heart failure, it may also reduce risk of complications and improve long-term survival.