Flu vaccination could reduce toll of heart attacks

As Australia faces its second worst flu season on record, new research has found that investing in the influenza vaccination to protect against heart attacks in older adults could prove beneficial.

To date close to 200,000 cases of flu have been recorded in the country.

New research from the University of New South Wales that came to the fore at the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand’s annual scientific meeting in Adelaide on August 9 has found that investing in the influenza vaccination to protect against heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) in adults aged 50 to 64 could save the Australian government up to $31.4 million.

The research shows that extending vaccinations each year has the potential to prevent 1,482 heart attacks; 314 cases of influenza/pneumonia; and 338 respiratory hospitalisations.

The cost savings would arise primarily from averted heart attack hospitalisations.

While influenza is recognised as causing pneumonia, hospitalisations and death, what is less known is its role in triggering a heart attack. There is clear evidence to show heart attacks and cardiac deaths increase during the influenza season.

This research is one of the first economic evaluations of the protective effect of influenza vaccination on myocardial infarction in Australia, led by an independent team at University of New South Wales.

It has uncovered the significant value of extending the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and providing the influenza vaccination to adults aged 50 to 64 as a preventive measure for heart attack and respiratory hospitalisations.


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