Flu and Patients with Heart Disease

Updated: Mar 5



With the advent of autumn and winter nearing, it’s time for the annual flu shot again, 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 kills more people each year, hospitalises more people and more in monetary terms and lost 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. Infection can also cause a vulnerable, cholesterol-filled plaque inside a coronary artery to break apart. The blood clot that forms to seal the break can block the artery, causing a heart attack or even sudden death.


Flu shots are approved for use in people with heart disease and other health conditions. Flu shots have a long, established safety record in people with heart disease.


Specific Health Actions for People with Heart Disease or History of Stroke

  • Plan ahead to maintain sufficient supplies of your regular medications for chronic medical conditions (e.g. at least a 2-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.


Symptoms and Treatment


If you get sick with flu symptoms call your health care provider right away. There are flu antiviral drugs that can treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications.

In case of flu like symptoms, reach out to your GP/ specialist. It could also be signs of Covid-19. It is important to get the right treatment based on your medical practitioner’s advice.



Joining a support group can help you discuss your feelings and also be a great way to interact with other individuals.

Heart Support Australia runs monthly support groups in locations across Australia. To join call us at 0262530097 or email at office@heartnet.org.au

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