Some Influenza Vaccine Reactions May Be a Good Sign for People With Heart Disease

Some Influenza Vaccine Reactions May Be a Good Sign for People With Heart Disease

People with heart disease who forgo annual flu vaccination for fear of having an adverse reaction may want to reconsider. New research finds that people with high-risk heart disease who experience mild to moderate side effects are less likely to be hospitalized for heart or lung problems or die from any cause.

The findings suggest that mild vaccine-related side effects, such as soreness at the injection site, may indicate a strong immune response and better overall health.

The work was presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference and published simultaneously in the European Journal of Heart Failure.

It adds to a large body of evidence supporting annual flu vaccination for people with heart disease.

“Influenza vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of cardiac morbidity and mortality, but despite this advantage, there is still a high proportion of people with heart problems who are not vaccinated,” said lead researcher Dr. Alexander. Peikert. He is a postdoctoral research fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Concerns about vaccine-related side effects may be one reason for this hesitation.”

The study showed that “having a mild adverse reaction is a good thing,” Peikert said. “If you experience such a reaction, you shouldn’t worry about it. It shouldn’t discourage you from getting vaccinated.”

Previous research shows that half of American adults hospitalized for the flu have heart disease, and the risk of having a first heart attack is six times higher after a flu infection. Studies show that risk can be substantially reduced by getting the flu shot, but less than half of American adults do.

“We know it’s beneficial, but they don’t take it,” said Dr. Siva Harsha Yedlapati, an internist at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, N.Y. She said several studies have shown that fear of side effects is one of the main reasons people forgo injections.

Yedlapati, who was not involved in the new research, led a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that found flu shots greatly reduce the risk of dying or developing serious heart-related complications in people with heart diseases.

In this latest study, Peikert and colleagues analyzed data from 5,210 participants for whom adverse reaction data were available in the INVESTED (INfluenza Vaccine to Effective Stop Cardio Thoracic Events and Decompensated Heart Failure) trial. That trial included patients at 157 medical centers in the US and Canada who had recently been hospitalized for heart failure or a heart attack. The participants, who were an average of 65 years old, received a standard or high-dose flu vaccine.

In all, the researchers analyzed data from a total of 7,154 vaccines administered over three flu seasons. Participants were followed until the end of each flu season (up to 10 months) to see if complications developed. Deaths were recorded up to three years after vaccination.

Mild, moderate, and severe reactions to the influenza vaccine were recorded. Overall, 37.8% of people experienced some type of side effect, and the majority of those reactions (76.4%) were mild. Injection site pain was the most common side effect, accounting for 60.3% of adverse reactions, followed by muscle aches and pains (34.5%) and malaise (22%). Only 2.9% of adverse reactions were considered serious, which represents 1.1% of the vaccines administered.

People who experienced adverse reactions were more likely to be women and to have been hospitalized for heart attacks. They were also more likely to be younger, current smokers and overweight compared to those who did not respond to the vaccine.

Only reactions involving the injection site were associated with reduced cardiopulmonary risks or death. Overall, those who experienced mild to moderate injection site reactions had a 19% lower risk of dying for any reason or being hospitalized for heart or lung problems.

While a very small percentage of people in the study had a serious reaction to the vaccine, those who did were 68% more likely to die or be hospitalized, a finding that suggests this group may be predisposed to having an immune system not work properly, Peikert said. .

Those who took the higher dose of the vaccine were more likely to have a reaction to the injection, but there was no difference in hospitalization or death rates for people who took the low-dose vaccine compared with those who took the higher dose. taller, he said.

Peikert said the results applied only to people at high risk for cardiovascular problems and might not be transferable to the general public.

The AHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, including those with heart disease, with rare exceptions. However, the CDC does not recommend the live influenza vaccine (also known as nasal spray) for people with heart disease.

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