Flu Vaccination can Greatly Reduce Mortality in Adults and Children with Heart Disease Patients

Flu Vaccination can Greatly Reduce Mortality in Adults and Children with Heart

Influenza, commonly known as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. Although the flu affects both sexes and all age groups, kids tend to get it more often than adults. The illness even has its own season - from November to April, with most cases occurring between late December and early March.


Each year 10 to 20 percent of the population gets hit with the influenza virus, and according to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 192 million days will be spent in bed because of the flu. But preventive measures can be taken in the simple form of a flu vaccine.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the CDC recommend that these groups, who are at increased risk of flu-related complications, be given the flu shot:

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot every year between October and November, before the flu season hits (usually from December to April). Flu outbreaks occur mainly in the late fall and winter. Keep in mind that it takes one to two weeks for the flu shot to take effect.

Each September, a new flu vaccine is introduced. The vaccine is approximately 70 to 90 percent effective for healthy adults, according to the CDC. High-risk groups, though, usually don't fare as well. Edelman sites the elderly in particular as a group that receives less protection from the vaccine.

Recently a new advisory by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology is recommending that patients with cardiovascular disease get an annual vaccination against influenza.

This should reduce illness due to cardiovascular disease and cut mortality rates in this population.

Such patients, however, should not be given the nasal-spray flu vaccine, according to the advisory, which is currently available online and slated to appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Several reports have shown that annual flu vaccination can greatly reduce mortality in adults and children with cardiovascular conditions, yet in 2005 only about one in three adults with such conditions had a flu shot.

"If we vaccinated at least 60% of the 13.2 million people with coronary heart disease in the US against influenza, we could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases of flu each year," Dr. Matthew M. Davis, lead author of the advisory and an internist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, said in a statement.

"Most people with heart disease visit their cardiologists during the time when they should get the flu shot, but only about half of cardiologists in the US stock the vaccine in their clinics," Davis commented.

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