Can the Flu Trigger a Heart Attack?
Being proactive is the key to surviving flu season. Assess your level of risk for flu complications. And learn five easy steps to protect your health.
Did you know: people with heart disease are at least six times more likely to have a heart attack after coming down with the flu? The flu causes inflammation that can affect different parts of the body, including the heart. In certain people, the inflammation can be so bad that it causes a heart attack.
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The good news is that flu complications rarely cause death. But, if you have other risk factors, it’s important to take the right steps to prevent serious problems. Here, clinical cardiologist Chete Eze-Nliam, MD, MPH, explains who are at risk for flu-related complications and how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
A: Although rare, possible complications include the following:
A: You are at high risk for developing flu complications if you have:
A: Noncardiac flu complications are known to make a heart disease patient’s heart condition much worse. It’s challenging to treat people with heart failure and flu complications, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, since they may require ventilator support, intravenous fluids and medications. Severe flu symptoms can also put stress on the heart and increase the risk of worsening conditions such as heart failure and heart arrhythmia.
A: Be proactive in preventing problems with the flu by doing the following:
A: Some people fear that if they get the flu shot, they’ll get the flu or another disease. It’s true that some people end up having flu-like symptoms after getting the flu vaccine. However, the overall benefits outweigh such rarely experienced, usually mild and self-limiting symptoms.
Others avoid the flu shot because they don’t think it will work. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.
It’s important to remember that the flu shot is a preventive action you can take to safeguard your health.