CDC Study Finds Sudden, Serious Cardiac Events Common in Adults Hospitalized with Flu

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

Here’s yet another good reason to get your flu shot as well as encourage others to do so – residents, families, friends. 

A CDC study published August 25, 2020 looked at more than 80,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with flu over eight flu seasons (2010-11 through 2017-18) and found that sudden, serious heart complications were common and occurred in one out of every eight patients (~12% of patients).

The study looked at a range of sudden heart complications called “acute cardiac events” that resulted in the following:

  • damage to the heart muscle,
  • inflammation of the heart muscle,
  • fluid or inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart, or
  • weakening of the pumping function of the heart.

The most common acute cardiac events reported in the study were acute heart failure and acute ischemic heart disease. Acute heart failure is the sudden inability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, while acute ischemic heart disease is a term that describes heart problems caused by narrowed or blocked heart arteries.

CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine this and every flu season. Flu vaccination is always considered important for people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications, including people with heart disease. Flu shots are approved for use in people with heart disease. People with heart disease should not receive the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV, also known as the nasal spray flu vaccine). However, any intramuscular flu shot (i.e., any inactivated or recombinant influenza vaccine) can be given.