Flu vaccines can save the lives of people with cardiovascular disease by reducing heart complications as well as preventing the flu.
An international study led by researchers at McMaster University in Canada and published in The Lancet Global Health found that the flu vaccine greatly reduced both pneumonia and cardiovascular complications in people with heart failure.
“If you have heart failure, you should get the flu shot because it can save your life, that’s what we found with this study,” said the study’s lead researcher, Mark Loeb, McMaster professor of pathology and molecular medicine and an infectious disease physician. and microbiologist.
“It is underestimated that flu vaccines can save people from cardiovascular death,” he said.
Flu shots keep those with heart disease alive
The study showed that over the course of an entire year, the flu vaccine reduced pneumonia by 40% and hospitalization by 15% in patients with heart failure. During the fall and winter flu season, the flu vaccine reduced deaths in these patients by 20%.
Data collected during the flu season also showed that the vaccine helped protect against cardiovascular complications, such as heart attacks and strokes, they note Medical Xpress.
This clinical trial followed more than 5,000 patients with heart failure in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where few people are regularly vaccinated against the flu. They received either a flu shot or a placebo annually between June 2015 and November 2021.
The flu vaccine has a positive impact on public health
While the flu has long been associated with an increased risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events, Loeb said people with heart failure are already vulnerable to poor health outcomes. Patients with this condition have a 50% chance of dying within 5 years, while 20% are hospitalized for cardiovascular complications each year.
“Importantly, we looked at low- and middle-income countries where 80 percent of cardiovascular disease occurs and where flu vaccination rates are low,” Loeb said.
“Influenza vaccines should be part of standard practice in people with heart failure, given how simple, cheap and safe it is. The fact that they lead to the avoidance of one-sixth of deaths from cardiovascular disease and prevent hospitalization makes them very cost-effective and can have an important impact on public health,” said Salim Yusuf, author of the study.
This is the first clinical trial of the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in patients with heart failure.