Flu season can be a dangerous time for patients with heart disease. Death from influenza is more common in patients with heart disease than any other chronic condition. Patients with heart disease are at increased risk of complications from the flu, including pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart attack, and death. The Flu can also worsen co-existing conditions such as dehydration, heart failure, diabetes, and asthma.
Flu shots are safe for most people with heart disease.
Get your vaccine injected by needle, usually performed in the arm. Side effects include local muscle soreness, low-grade fever, or muscle aches which typically resolve in a day or two. Flu vaccine administered by nasal spray (FluMist) is NOT recommended for people with heart disease because it is made with live virus which can trigger Flu symptoms in patients with heart disease.
Even if you do get the Flu despite having a Flu shot, your course will likely be less severe. Getting a Flu shot may even reduce your risk of a heart attack if you have heart disease.
The Influenza A and B antigens identified this year differ from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 season. Annual vaccination is recommended even if you received the Flu shot last year.
Routine influenza vaccination is recommended for all individuals aged 6 months and older. Certain individuals are at a higher risk including anyone above the age of 65, pregnant women, and adults aged 25-64 with chronic medical conditions. These patients, their household and close contacts including caregivers require Flu shots.
Remember: lowering YOUR risk will reduce the risk of those around you.
– Dr Anne-Marie Feyrer Melk