Fatal MI risk increased by 30% during flu epidemic

Concerted action is required to ensure patients at risk of CHD are given their annual flu jab, say US and Russian researchers.

Patients at risk of CHD should receive their flu jab
Patients at risk of CHD should receive their flu jab

The recommendation follows findings that the incidence of fatal MI increased by 30 per cent during a flu epidemic.

Flu vaccine is already recommended for patients in England with CHD or other chronic conditions and the over-65s.

But earlier this year the DoH raised concern about low vaccine uptake in at-risk groups. Only 51 per cent of patients with CHD had received a flu jab by December 2006 (GP, 2 February).

For the latest study, rates of autopsy-confirmed fatal MI and IHD that occurred in St Petersburg between 1993 and 2000 were plotted against acute respiratory disease (ARD) counts and flu outbreaks.

Every year, the peak of MI and IHD deaths coincided with flu epidemics and peak ARD activity.

When death rates in the flu epidemic weeks were compared to the average off-season weeks, they found the odds of fatal MI increased by 30 per cent and fatal IHD by 10 per cent.

County Durham GP Dr Ahmet Fuat, a member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS), said: 'The study adds evidence that we should vaccinate these people and primary healthcare teams need to use every avenue.'

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