HealthDay News — Influenza infection is associated with increased odds of atrial fibrillation (AF), which can be reduced through vaccination, according to a study published online in Heart Rhythm.

Ting-Yung Chang, MD, from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues examined whether influenza infection was a risk factor for AF. Data were included for 11,374 patients with newly diagnosed AF, identified from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database from 2000 to 2010. Four control patients without AF were matched by age and sex for each study patient on the same date of enrollment.

The researchers found that patients with influenza infection without vaccination (1,369 patients) had a significantly higher risk of AF compared with patients without influenza infection or vaccination (reference group; 38,353 patients), with an odds ratio of 1.182 after adjustment for baseline differences (P = 0.032). Patients receiving influenza vaccination without influenza infection (16,452 patients) had a lower risk of AF, with an odds ratio of 0.881 (P < 0.001). 


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Patients who had received influenza vaccination and had influenza infection (696 patients) had a similar risk of AF as those in the reference group (odds ratio, 1.136; P = 0.214). In subgroup analyses the lower risk of AF with vaccination was consistent.

“Influenza infection was significantly associated with the development of AF, with an 18% increase in the risk, which could be reduced through influenza vaccination,” the authors write.

References

1. Chang T-Y, Chao T-F, Liu C-J, et al. The association between influenza infection, vaccination, and atrial fibrillation: a nationwide case-control study. Heart Rhythm. 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2016.01.026.

2. Verma N, Knight BP. The flu and atrial fibrillation: nothing to sneeze at. Heart Rhythm. 2016. doi: 10.1016/jhrthm.2016.01.025.