Copenhagen, Denmark—Pharmacists who vaccinate heart failure patients against influenza are doing more than following good practice. A new study suggests they are saving lives.

New research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation points out that influenza can be dangerous or even fatal for patients with heart failure (HF). The reasons include the age of patients, who are usually older than 65 years, compromised circulation, and other health issues.

Danish researchers performed a nationwide cohort study including all 134,048 patients who were older than age 18 years and diagnosed with HF in Denmark from January 1, 2003, to June 1, 2015. Over a median follow-up time of 3.7 years, researchers found that the vaccination coverage of the study cohort ranged from 16% to 54%.

After adjustment for inclusion date, comorbidities, medications, household income, and education level, receiving one or more vaccinations was associated with an 18% reduced risk of death (all-cause: hazard ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.81-0.84; P <.001; cardiovascular causes: hazard ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.81-0.84; P <.001), results indicated.

Researchers note that annual vaccination, vaccination early in the year (September–October), and greater cumulative number of vaccinations were associated with larger reductions in the risk of death compared with intermittent vaccination.

The study team also determined that annual flu vaccination following a heart failure diagnosis was associated with a 19% reduction in both all-cause and cardiovascular death when compared with no vaccination.

In addition, researchers documented that frequency of flu vaccination made a difference; getting a flu shot less than once per year but more than not at all was associated with a 13% reduced risk of all-cause death and an 8% reduced risk of cardiovascular death.

“In Inpatients with HF, influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of both all-cause and cardiovascular death after extensive adjustment for confounders,” study authors concluded. “Frequent vaccination and vaccination earlier in the year were associated with larger reductions in the risk of death compared with intermittent and late vaccination.”

Lead study author Daniel Modin, MB, an investigator from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, added, “Recent studies have indicated that the influenza vaccination coverage of patients with heart failure is inadequate. 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.”

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