Research Suggests Flu Vaccination May Boost Survival for Patients with Heart Failure
With flu season on the horizon, the flu vaccine is a critical piece of keeping you and your family healthy. For populations at risk of suffering from complications related to the flu, the vaccine can be a life saving preventive treatment.
A study published in the American Heart Associations’ journal Circulation has confirmed that flu shots can save the lives of people with heart failure, who are at particular risk for flu related complications. The 2018 study evaluated the effect of the flu shot on the mortality risk of 134,048 patients with newly diagnosed heart failure.1
The researchers followed the subjects for 12 years to understand the impact of receiving the flu vaccine and the risk of developing complications related to heart failure. In 2003, only 16% of the participants received the vaccine. In 2015, 52% of the participants received the vaccine.
The study found that getting the flu vaccine was associated with an 18% reduced risk of premature death, even when accounting for confounding variables like other health conditions, education, or income level. The flu vaccine was also associated with a 19% decrease in all-cause and heart related deaths.
It is important to note that the earlier in the season that the shot was received the better. Researchers found that there was a greater reduction in the risk of death when the flu shot was received in September and October. There was not as much protection against complications when the vaccine was given in November or December. But, it can still protect against the flu.
One thing to note, this study did only look at patients who were newly diagnosed with heart failure. But, researchers believe that the results may translate to all patients with heart failure as well.
Protecting Yourself Against the Flu
Getting the flu shot is an effective, safe, low-cost way to reduce the risk of flu complications and possibly death. If you have heart failure, circulation problems and other complications make flu symptoms worse, leading to pneumonia or other serious illnesses. The flu also puts you at greater risk of heart failure exacerbation and acceleration of the disease. If you are over 65 years old, you are particularly at risk of getting the flu and should speak to your doctor about being vaccinated annually.
Flu season in the United States is during the fall and winter months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu vaccine by the end of October, before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to kick in and reduce your risk of flu. The flu shot can be effective if given later, but the sooner you have it the better.
The flu shot is given by injection, which is safe for people with heart failure. There has not been research on the effect of the flu nasal spray. It is recommended that people with heart failure avoid the spray, since it contains a live virus.
The flu shot is available at most doctors offices. Many pharmacies and grocery stores also hold “flu clinics” to make it easy and effortless to get vaccinated. Call today to schedule your appointment for your annual flu shot.
- Tags: Heart Health
- Blog Contributor