Flu shots can help save heart patients’ lives

Flu shots can help save heart patients’ lives

For a heart patient, an annual flu shot can do more than ward off a serious seasonal illness. It can also help save their life.

That’s the upshot from a recent study by European researchers, who concluded that getting a flu shot reduced the risk of premature death by 18 percent among newly diagnosed heart-failure patients. The findings by University of Copenhagen researchers also revealed a 19 percent drop in all-cause and cardiovascular deaths compared with those who did not get a flu shot.

The team collected data for flu vaccination rates and medical outcomes from more than 130,000 newly diagnosed patients recovering from heart failure over a 12-year period. Heart patients have decreased circulatory function and are often elderly and frail, increasing their risks from contracting the flu. Previous studies have suggested the flu vaccine can be beneficial in high-risk cardiovascular conditions, but there has been little research in how the shot works for patients with heart failure.

The study also found the timing and frequency of the flu vaccination also affected outcomes.

Heart patients who got a flu shot less than once a year fared better than those who got no vaccination, but those who got an annual flu shot did better overall. Also, when heart patients got a flu shot early in the flu season, there were fewer deaths from cardiovascular events and all other causes.

While the research only assessed newly diagnosed heart patients, the researchers said they believe any heart patient would benefit from getting a flu shot. The findings, they added, also demonstrate the importance of making flu shots a standard treatment for heart patients.

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