Study: Influenza, Pneumonia Vaccinations Associated With Less Heart Failure Deaths

October 29, 2020
Gabrielle Ientile, Assistant Editor

Of the nearly 3 million Americans included in the study, just 1.4% had the flu vaccine and 1.4% had the pneumonia vaccine.

Results of a recent study showed an association between influenza and pneumonia vaccinations and fewer hospital deaths in patients with heart failure (HF).

The study, which was released at the virtual European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2020, aimed to address the scarcity in studies comparing respiratory outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated patients with HF. 

An estimated 26 million individuals around the world have HF and about 1 in 5 people will develop HF, according to ESC. The disease leads to the build-up of fluid in the lungs, which causes shortness of breath and coughing, as well as reduced quality of life and increased hospitalizations. Respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumonia, also exacerbate HF; therefore, annual vaccinations are recommended.

The study incorporated 2,912,137 patients with HF who were admitted to the hospital between 2010 and 2014. Investigators used data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS), which covers more than 95% of the US population. The average age of patients in the study was 70 years.

Investigators reported that in-hospital mortality rates were significantly lower in patients who received the flu vaccine (1.3%) compared with those who did not receive the flu vaccine (3.6%). Similarly, patients who were vaccinated against pneumonia (1.2%) demonstrated significantly lower rate of in-hospital mortality compared with individuals that did not receive the pneumonia vaccine (3.6%).

Now, in the era of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the importance of vaccination to protect against respiratory infections has risen to new heights, particularly for individuals with comorbid conditions such as HF according to study author Karthik Gonuguntla, MD, from the University of Connecticut.

“Pneumonia and flu vaccines are vital to preventing these respiratory infections and protecting patients with heart failure,” Dr Gonuguntla said. “Although many people have rejected common and safe vaccines before COVID-19, I am optimistic that the pandemic has changed perceptions about the role of immunizations in safeguarding our health.”

Furthermore, pharmacists can play an important role in administering these vaccinations to the general public, while specifically identifying and educating high-risk individuals about the benefits.

Reference:

  1. Vaccines against respiratory infections linked with less heart failure deaths. News Release. European Society of Cardiology; August 28, 2020. Accessed October 28, 2020. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Vaccines-against-respiratory-infections-linked-with-less-heart-failure-deaths.