Type 2 diabetes results in a person being unable to control their blood sugar properly. People with the condition are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, possibly due to high blood sugar levels damaging blood vessels. Flu infection has been found to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients with cardiovascular disease.
‘Flu vaccination cuts the risk of death as well as hospitalization due to stroke, heart failure and pneumonia in people with type 2 diabetes’
"Most flu deaths every year occur in people with pre-existing health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes," said lead author of the study Eszter Vamos from Imperial College London. "This study suggests the vaccine may have substantial benefits for patients with long-term conditions. Not only might it help reduce serious illness such as stroke and heart attack in high-risk individuals, but it may also reduce the risk of death in the flu season," Vamos noted.
The team studied 124,503 British adults with Type-2 diabetes between 2003 and 2010. Around 65% of these patients received the flu vaccine. In addition to adjusting for demographic, social and clinical characteristics, investigators also studied the summer months, when the occurrence of influenza is low, to better understand the differences between people with type 2 diabetes who received and did not receive influenza vaccine.
The scientists found that, compared to patients who had not been vaccinated, those who received the jab had a 30% reduction in hospital admissions for stroke, 22% reduction in heart failure admissions and 15% reduction in admissions for pneumonia or influenza. Also, people who were vaccinated had a 24% lower death rate than patients who were not vaccinate. These findings published in Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)
underline the importance of influenza vaccination as part of comprehensive secondary prevention in this high-risk population.