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Flu Complications

If you have heart disease, you’re more likely to become seriously ill from the flu or other respiratory infections—those that affect your nose, throat or lungs. 

Complications from the flu include:

  • Severe illness, including pneumonia and inflammation—or swelling—of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or the protective sac around the heart (pericarditis)
  • Worsening heart disease or other health problems 
  • Greater chance of having a heart attack  
  • Hospitalization
  • Death

Having the flu can place added stress on the body and the heart. It can quicken your heart rate, raise your body temperature and ramp up your body’s fight or flight response, all of which can make heart attack more likely. As well, your body has more inflammation when fighting infection; this may cause plaque that lines the blood vessel to rupture.

It’s important to remember that complications from the flu can occur even when conditions such as heart disease or diabetes are well controlled. That’s why experts urge that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot each year. 

If you need more convincing, the flu vaccine carries more heart benefits, too. Annual flu shots are:

  • Linked to lower rates of cardiovascular events, especially among those who’ve had a recent heart attack 
  • Shown to cut the risk of death in people with heart failure  and lower the likelihood of going to the hospital for cardiovascular problems  
  • Associated with about 20% reduction in death (from cardiovascular disease or any cause) in patients with heart failure when compared with no vaccination 

Another plus? When you get vaccinated, you don’t just protect yourself. You are also be doing your part to help protect other people around you from the flu.

  • Last Edited 10/16/2019