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Flu Vaccine Rates Low in Young Adults With Heart Disease

TUESDAY, Nov. 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Among young adults with heart disease, less than 25% get a flu shot, a new study finds.

"Individuals with cardiovascular disease are more likely to have flu than among those without any chronic health conditions," said researcher Dr. Tarang Parekh, a Ph.D. candidate and assistant researcher at George Mason University College of Health and Human Services in Fairfax, Va.

Getting the flu shot could be especially important for people with heart trouble.

"Having a flu infection can exacerbate cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, and can also lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia. You are putting yourself at increased risk when you don't get the flu vaccine," Parekh said.

For the study, the researchers culled data on flu vaccination and cardiovascular disease from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

They found that:

  • Only 20% of young adults aged 18 to 34 with a history of heart attack had a flu shot versus about 25% of those who never had a heart attack but had heart disease.
  • Only about 22% of those aged 35 to 44 who had a heart attack had a flu shot, compared with about 28% of those who didn't have a heart attack but had heart disease.
  • Compared with younger adults, vaccination rates of those with heart disease were lower in older adults, 28% versus 26.7%, respectively.
  • Younger stroke survivors were more likely to be vaccinated: 27% of those aged 18 to 34, compared with 24% of those who never had a stroke.

The findings will be presented Nov. 13-17 at the American Heart Association's (AHA) virtual annual meeting. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"If we look at our Healthy People 2020 goals, one major goal is to reach 70% of the population receiving the annual flu vaccine. However, we are not even at the halfway mark, especially when you consider that the vaccine rate among those with cardiovascular disease is significantly lower," Parekh said in a meeting news release.

"It's essential that young adults with cardiovascular disease receive the flu vaccine. We need to place greater focus on patients who are not being vaccinated and push a targeted intervention to close that gap," he noted.

More information

For more on flu shots, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 9, 2020

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