Flu, Pneumonia Vaccines May Benefit HF Patients

Flu and pneumonia vaccines may improve the quality of life and outcomes of heart failure (HF) patients by providing cost-effective protection against life-threatening respiratory infections, according to a review paper published Feb. 1 in JACC: Heart Failure.

Robert J. Mentz, MD, FACC, and colleagues examined published studies from January 1990 to July 2016 on interventions involving the use of pneumonia or flu vaccines in HF patients or related to HF outcomes. They found that preliminary evidence across prior studies suggests flu and pneumonia vaccines have a protective effect in HF patients, but data are still limited. Recent evidence also shows a benefit in giving HF patients over the age of 65 a high-dose vaccination since many patients with HF may have a decreased immune response to a standard dose. However, the authors explain that questions still remain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend yearly flu vaccinations for adults with chronic cardiovascular disease, including HF. Recommendations for a yearly flu vaccination are supported by cardiology societies, including the ACC, which states in its guidelines that patients with cardiovascular disease should have an annual flu vaccine. The ACC also recommends pneumonia vaccines for secondary prevention of HF. However, the impact of vaccination in HF patients is incompletely studied since most vaccination trials either have not enrolled HF patients or not assessed the impact of vaccines in a HF cohort sub-study.

“A deeper understanding of current vaccination practices within the HF population is necessary to guide population-level interventions aimed at improving vaccination rates,” said Mentz. “Vaccination represents a low-cost intervention that may be able to prevent the significant disease, death and cost associated with HF.”

Clinical Topics: Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathies, Prevention, Acute Heart Failure

Keywords: Adult, Cardiovascular Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Cohort Studies, Heart Failure, Influenza Vaccines, Pneumonia, Quality of Life, Respiratory Tract Infections, Secondary Prevention, Vaccination

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