Getting an annual flu jab could help people with heart problems live longer, a new study suggests.
Influenza is serious or even fatal for patients with heart failure because they already have poor circulation and infection can exacerbate symptoms.
Heart and circulatory disease causes 160,000 deaths each year in the UK, but although the NHS recommends the flu jab for people with heart problems, it was unknown it was having an impact on death rates.
Researchers analysed data from 134,048 patients with newly diagnosed heart failure over a 12-year period and found an annual jab reduced early death by 18pc.
Getting a flu shot less than once per year but more than not at all was associated with a 13pc reduced risk of all-cause death and an 8pc reduced risk of cardiovascular death.
There benefit was found to be greatest if people had the vaccination during September and October in comparison with November and December.
Lead study author Dr Daniel Modin, an investigator from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said that while the research only looked at patients with newly diagnosed heart failure, the protection was likely to benefit all patients with heart failure.
“Recent studies have indicated that the influenza vaccination coverage of patients with heart failure is inadequate,” said Dr Modin.
“I hope 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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