Influenza vaccination as a primary or secondary prevention for cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review of the literature

Venkata Ravindra Kumar Panchumarthi, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. CVD mainly comprise of coronary heart disease and stroke and were ranked first and fourth respectively amongst leading causes of death in the United States. Influenza (flu) causes annual outbreaks and pandemics and is increasingly recognized as an important trigger for acute coronary syndromes and stroke. Influenza vaccination is an inexpensive and effective strategy for prevention of influenza related complications in high risk individuals. Though it is recommended for all CVD patients, Influenza vaccine is still used at suboptimal levels in these patients owing to prevailing controversy related to its effectiveness in preventing CVD. This review was undertaken to critically assess the effectiveness of influenza vaccination as a primary or secondary prevention method for CVD. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using electronic databases OVID MEDLINE, PUBMED (National Library of Medicine), EMBASE, GOOGLE SCHOLAR and TRIP (Turning Research into Practice). The study search was limited to peer-reviewed articles published in English language from January 1970 through May 2012. The case control studies, cohort studies and randomized controlled trials related to influenza vaccination and CVD, with data on at least one of the outcomes were identified. In the review, only population-based epidemiologic studies in all ethnic groups and of either sex and with age limitation of 30 yrs or above, with clinical CVD outcomes of interest were included. Results: Of the 16 studies (8 case control studies, 6 cohort studies and 2 randomized controlled trials) that met the inclusion criteria, 14 studies reported that there was a significant benefit in u influenza vaccination as primary or secondary prevention method for preventing new cardiovascular events. In contrary to the above findings, two studies mentioned that there was no significant benefit of vaccination in CVD prevention. Conclusion: The available body of evidence in the review elucidates that vaccination against influenza is associated with reduction in the risk of new CVD events, hospitalization for coronary heart disease and stroke and as well as the risk of death. The study findings disclose that the influenza vaccination is very effective in CVD prevention and should be encouraged for the high risk population. However, larger and more future studies like randomized control trials are needed to further evaluate and confirm these findings.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Panchumarthi, Venkata Ravindra Kumar, "Influenza vaccination as a primary or secondary prevention for cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review of the literature" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1530228.