Research conducted by a Department of Veterans Affairs scientist has established a link between the influenza virus and hospitalization for heart failure. Dr. Orly Vardeny, a pharmacist and researcher at VA’s Minneapolis medical center, led a team of colleagues who looked at hospitalization data among veterans ages 35-84 between October 2010 and September 2014 in four different stateside communities. By comparing data at Jackson, Miss., Forsyth County, N.C., Washington County, Md., and Minneapolis suburbs, the team determined that a five-percent increase in monthly flu activity could be linked to a 24-percent increase in hospitalizations for heart failure. They concluded that their findings would indicate a connection between the two conditions.
“Our study suggests that influenza may contribute to the risk of heart failure hospitalization in the general population. This is additional strong evidence that adults need to have an annual immunization against influenza to avoid potential complications that lead to hospitalization,” Vardeny said.
The findings were published in the March 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Cardiology. Vardeny co-wrote the article with researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Toronto General Hospital, the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute.