Flu jab cuts CVD mortality levels

GPs should encourage patients with heart disease and diabetes to come forward for the seasonal flu jab this autumn, after latest research highlighted the link between influenza and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Last year, just 47.2 per cent of UK patients with chronic diseases, including heart disease, received the flu jab. For this latest study, researchers from University College London conducted a review of 42 papers looking for an association between influenza and heart attacks or cardiovascular death.

All the studies examined showed a rise in deaths due to heart disease or incidence of heart attacks during time periods when the influenza virus was circulating.

The proportion of excess influenza deaths that were due to heart disease averaged 35 per cent.

The researchers, led by Dr Andrew Hayward, concluded that influenza vaccination should be encouraged wherever indicated, especially in patients who have already been diagnosed with CVD.

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