Colds and flu

Updated 12 October 2017

Flu shot may extend type 2 diabetics' lives

According to a study, getting a flu vaccination also appeared to protect type 2 diabetics against hospitalisations for stroke and heart and breathing problems.

The seasonal flu vaccine may offer people with type 2 diabetes some protection against dying prematurely, a new study suggests.

Higher risk of heart problems

The flu shot also appeared to protect those with type 2 diabetes from hospitalisations for stroke, as well as heart and breathing problems, the study said.

British researchers looked at a large group – more than 124,500 people – with type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes normally have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, the researchers noted.

Read: Adult diabetics need a flu shot

During the seven-year study, the researchers found that flu vaccination was associated with a 19 percent reduction in flu-season hospital admissions for heart attack in people with type 2 diabetes.

Hospital admissions for stroke were 30 percent lower for those who got a flu vaccination. Admissions were also down 22 percent for heart failure, and 15 percent for pneumonia or influenza in people with type 2 diabetes who got the flu shot.

Comprehensive secondary prevention

The death rate among those who received a flu shot was 24 percent lower than in those who weren't vaccinated, the research said.

Read: Some flu meds affect chronic medications

The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect link between the flu shot and the reduction in death and hospital admissions. However, the study did show a strong connection between those factors.

The results show "that people with type 2 diabetes may derive substantial benefits from current vaccines, including protection against hospital admission for some major cardiovascular outcomes," wrote study researcher Dr Eszter Vamos, from Imperial College London, and colleagues.

"These findings underline the importance of influenza vaccination as part of comprehensive secondary prevention in this high-risk population," the researchers said.

The study was published in CMAJ.

Read more:

'Pre-diabetes,' diabetes rising among US teens

Breastfeeding cuts diabetes risk

Diabetes undetected in Africa


Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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