A study presented at the ESC Congress 2020 - The Digital Experience has revealed that respiratory vaccines such as those for pneumonia and influenza are linked with a decreased number of hospital deaths in patients struggling with heart failure

Karthik Gonuguntla, study author, said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has shone the spotlight on the importance of vaccination to prevent respiratory infections, particularly for people with diseases like heart failure."

Compared Outcomes of Vaccinated Vs. Non-vaccinated Patients

Respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia make heart failure worse, and annual vaccinations are recommended. According to the study, one out of five individuals will suffer from heart failure in their lifetime. An estimated 26 million people are affected worldwide.

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While it is known that inoculations protect against respiratory infections and that these infections exacerbate heart failure, few studies have compared outcomes of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated patients. The research team examined whether immunization had any link with the risk of heart failure patients dying while in the hospital.

The study included 2,912,137 patients with heart failure who had a hospital admission from 2010 to 2014 and the average age was 70 years. Just 1.4 percent of the patients in the study had the flu vaccine and 1.4 percent had the pneumonia vaccine.

Rare Reactions to Vaccinations

The researchers compared in-hospital death rates between heart failure patients who received flu and pneumonia vaccinations that year and those who did not. The rates of in-hospital mortality were significantly lower in patients who received the flu vaccine (1.3 percent) compared to those who did not receive the flu vaccine (3.6 percent).

Similarly, rates of in-hospital mortality were significantly lower in patients inoculated against pneumonia (1.2 percent) compared to those who were not inoculated (3.6 percent). "Our study provides further impetus for annual immunizations in patients with heart failure. Despite advice to do so, uptake remains low," said Gonuguntla.

He noted that serious reactions to flu and pneumonia vaccinations are very rare, happen within a few hours, and can be effectively treated. "Pneumonia and flu vaccines are vital to preventing these respiratory infections and protecting patients with heart failure," 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," the study author concluded.

(With inputs from agencies)