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Risk of Heart Failure Death May Decrease Following Flu, Pneumonia Vaccination


In research presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2020 Congress, vaccines for influenza and pneumonia showed effectiveness at reducing death from heart failure.

In research presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2020 Congress, vaccines for influenza and pneumonia were shown to be effective at reducing in-hospital deaths among patients with heart failure, reported the study’s investigators.

“We sought to compare the in-hospital mortality in patients with heart failure who received influenza and pneumococcal vaccine,” they noted.

They presented their findings from a study of 587,018 patients with a primary discharge diagnosis of heart failure who were hospitalized in the United States between 2010 and 2014, with data from the National Inpatient Sample. This database covers more than 95% of the US population, the authors noted. The mean (SD) patient age was 70.53 (14.6) years, and most were male (60.1%) and Caucasian (53.2%). Transferred patients were excluded from the analysis.

Our study provides further impetus for annual immunizations in patients with heart failure,” said lead study author Karthik Gonuguntla, MD, of the University of Connecticut Health Center, in a statement.

Results show that among the 1.4% of study patients who had the flu vaccine, in-hospital mortality was shown to be significantly lower compared with those hospitalized who were not vaccinated: 1.3% vs 3.6% (P < .001), respectively. Similar conclusions were reached for in-hospital mortality among the 1.4% of patients who received pneumonia vaccination: 1.2% vs 3.6% (P <.001).

Gonuguntla notes that uptake for these vaccines may be low among patients with heart failure because of rare but serious reactions that can occur. However, treatment is available and usually helps within hours. Vaccinations that can prevent respiratory infections are especially important now during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, he added, “particularly for people with diseases like heart failure.

With heart failure known to cause fluid build-up in the lungs, respiratory infections exacerbate the disease, so annual influenza and pneumonia vaccines are recommended. However, comparison studies of outcomes between patients with heart failure who are and are not vaccinated are few and far between.

For the study, the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines were identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition codes V03.82 and V04.81, respectively.

“Despite the growing awareness regarding vaccinations in patients with heart failure, the rates of vaccination in heart failure patients remain low,” the authors concluded. “Our study findings indicate that patients who received influenza and pneumococcal vaccine had lower in-hospital mortality [as well as that] these vaccines have a significant impact in improving outcomes in heart failure patients.”


Gonuguntla K, Patil SP, Rojulpote C. Impact of influenza and pneumococcal vaccines upon in-hospital mortality in patients with heart failure: a retrospective cohort study in the United States. Presented at: European Society of Cardiology 2020 Congress; August 28, 2020.

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