A study published in Circulation has found a reduced risk of cardiovascular (CV) death in heart failure patients when they are given routine influenza vaccinations.

While annual flu vaccinations are recommended for patients with histories of heart disease or stroke, not much is known about their improvement in survival among heart failure patients. A team of researchers aimed to determine the impact of influenza vaccination on long-term survival, in patients with newly diagnosed heart failure. They enrolled 134,048 patients aged >18 years diagnosed with heart failure in Denmark over a 12-year period (January 1, 2003 to June 1, 2015); patient data were collected using nationwide registries. 

Nearly all patients were followed up for median 3.7 years and vaccination rates ranged from 16% (2003) to 54% (2009). The researchers found an 18% reduced risk of death among patients who received at least 1 vaccination (all-cause: hazard ratio [HR] 0.82, 95% CI, 0.81-0.84; P<.001; CV causes: HR 0.82, 95% CI, 0.81-0.84; P<.001), after adjusting for inclusion date, comorbidities, medications, household income and education level. 

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In addition, receiving an influenza vaccine less than once per year but more than not at all demonstrated a 13% lower risk of all-cause death and an 8% lower risk of CV death.  Receiving yearly and earlier vaccines (September-October), and receiving greater cumulative number of vaccinations were all associated with greater risk reductions for death vs intermittent and late (November-December) vaccinations.

Daniel Modin, lead investigator from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, added, “I hope that our study can assist in making physicians and cardiologists who care for patients with heart failure aware of how important influenza vaccination is for their patients. Influenza vaccination may be regarded as a standard treatment in heart failure similar to medications.”

For more information visit ahajournals.org.