Influenza Vaccination and the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest

Influenza epidemics are associated with an excess of mortality not only from respiratory diseases but also from other causes, and cardiovascular mortality increases abruptly during influenza epidemics, with little evidence of a lag period. In a population-based case-control study, the authors examined whether influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of out-of-hospital primary cardiac arrest (PCA), a major contributor to cardiovascular mortality in the community. Cases of PCA (n = 342) without prior heart disease or life-threatening comorbidity that occurred in King County, Washington, were identified from paramedic incident reports from October 1988 to July 1994. Demographically similar controls (n = 549) were identified from the community by using random digit dialing. Spouses of subjects were interviewed to assess treatment with influenza vaccine during the previous year and other risk factors. After adjustment for demographic, clinical, and behavioral risk factors, influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of PCA (odds ratio = 0.51, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.33, 0.79). The authors suggest that while the association of influenza vaccination with a reduced risk of PCA is consistent with cohort studies of influenza vaccination and total mortality, further studies are needed to determine whether the observed association reflects protection or selection. Am J Epidemiol 2000; 152:674-7. cardiac arrest; influenza; vaccination