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Flu Vaccinations Associated with Lower Hospitalization, Dementia Risk in Heart-Failure Patients

Receiving influenza vaccinations may do more than stop a bout of seasonal flu—it can also improve outcomes in patients with heart failure (HF), according to two new studies presented here at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Heart Failure 2016 Congress.

The first, a registry study of more than 20,000 chronic HF patients in Taiwan, showed that, after adjustments, those who received at least one dose of the flu vaccine had a 35% lower risk of developing dementia vs those who never received the vaccine. In addition, the dementia risk was 55% lower in those who had received at least three doses over the previous years.

Lead author Dr Ju-Chi Liu (Taipei Medical University-Shuang Ho Hospital, New Taipei City, Taiwan) told heartwire from Medscape that inflammation from a flu virus may cause injury to brain cells and play a part in dementia development.

In the second study, which was presented at a late-breaking clinical-trial session, investigators examined records for more than 59,000 HF patients in the UK and found that those who received the flu vaccine had a 30% lower risk of CV hospitalization vs an adjacent year when they didn"t receive the vaccine[2]. They also had a 16% lower risk of respiratory-infection–related hospitalization and a 4% lower risk of all-cause hospitalization.

Lead author Dr Kazem Rahimi (University of Oxford, UK) told heartwire that the results don"t suggest that infection from the flu causes CV events but that the more likely explanation is that infection can act as a trigger. "And if that trigger effect is controlled by vaccination, it"s likely to reduce admission to the hospital."