As autumn and winter approaches, it’s time for your annual flu shot. But how does the flu affect patients with heart disease?
Yes, the focus right now is to get the COVID 19 vaccine, but the “regular” flu isn’t something to be sneezed at! Seasonal flu can be dangerous for some, and people can become hospitalised and tragically people also die each year from the flu. It can affect workplace and families in monetary terms and with loss of productivity.
Infections of any kind can affect the heart and circulatory system. Influenza (the flu) is no different. It can make breathing difficult, boost blood pressure, make the heart beat faster, and rev up inflammation. All these force the heart to work harder. A healthy heart usually weathers these changes without a problem; a damaged or weakened heart may not. In some worst cases, severe infection in a compromised heart may cause a heart attack or even sudden death.
Flu shots are approved for use in people with heart disease. Flu shots have a long, established safety record in people with heart disease.
Specific health actions
- Plan ahead to maintain sufficient supplies of your regular medications for chronic medical conditions (e.g. at least a two week supply).
- Do not stop taking your regular medications without first consulting your health care provider, especially if you become sick with flu or another respiratory infection.
- People with heart failure should be alerted to changes in their breathing and should promptly report changes to their health care provider.
If you become sick with flu symptoms call your health care provider right away. It is important to get the right treatment based on your medical practitioner’s advice. You may require a COVID 19 test to ensure you do not have the virus. For the regular flu, there are antiviral drugs that can treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications.