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Flu Shot Crucial for Anyone With COPD

012019image004.pngSufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may benefit from a life-saving flu shot. While the benefits may make a real and significant difference in whether a person with COPD lives or dies, many of the millions with the lung condition simply don't get one, researchers report.

The flu can bring about lung inflammation and it can flare up for those with COPD, making the infection worse, said lead researcher Dr. Sunita Mulpuru, an associate scientist at Ottawa Hospital in Canada.

The report was published in the January 2019 issue of the journal Chest.

About 10 percent die, and one in five develop critical illness requiring admission to the intensive care unit, Mulpuru said. However, getting a flu shot can lower the odds of being hospitalized for flu-related illness by 38 percent, her team discovered.

"Despite that finding, only 66 percent of the patients in this study were vaccinated,” Mulpuru noted.

Dr. MeiLan Han, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said more COPD patients need to get vaccinated. “There are a lot of misconceptions out there,” Han said. “I hear things like 'I've never had the flu, so I don't think I'll ever get it,' which is a bit of a falsehood.”

During the 2018 flu season, about 1 million Americans went to the hospital, and the illness killed 80,000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

For this specific study, Mulpuru said her team and colleagues collected data on nearly 4,200 COPD patients hospitalized for acute respiratory illness. After checking their flu vaccination status, investigators said they found that COPD patients who had a flu shot were 38 percent less likely to be hospitalized for flu-related illness.

Additionally, COPD patients with the flu were more likely to die than those without the disease (10 percent versus 8 percent). These patients were also more likely to be critically ill (17 percent versus 12 percent), the findings showed.

Patients most at risk were those over age 75, those with heart disease and those who needed to use oxygen at home, the researchers reported. Vaccination does reduce hospitalization in patients with COPD who contract influenza.

Click here to read the full article on WebMD.