The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is urging patients with heart and circulatory conditions to get immunised against influenza (flu), as cold weather has started to set in across the United Kingdom. The advisory comes in the light of new evidence published in the Lancet which suggests that patients with coronary heart disease receiving flu vaccination could have a 24% lower risk for cardiovascular mortality.
In 2016/2017, a bad flu season accounted for an increased number of deaths in patients with heart and circulatory conditions. A report from Public Health England (PHE) indicated that the efficacy of the flu vaccine given in 2016/2017 was lower than that offered in the previous years, especially among individuals aged ≥65 years.
Viral infections including flu are known to elevate the metabolic rate and affect BP and heart rate. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a 6-fold higher risk of heart attacks among the elderly in the week succeeding a severe flu infection.
This year the NHS is offering an enhanced vaccine for individuals aged ≥65 years. Distribution of the vaccine for this age group will be done in a phased fashion, which means some individuals are likely to get the vaccine later than usual. However, NHS England and PHE have assured people that even if they receive their flu jab a little late, they will get an enhanced vaccine.