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Health and Medicine for Seniors

Seniors with Heart Problems Need to Worry About NOT Getting Flu Shot

Those with cardiovascular problems probably most in need of a flu shot

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Two senior women focused on senior man in centerOct. 31, 2014 – When you have heart problems, as so many senior citizens do, it is natural to become concerned about things you put in your body – like vaccine to prevent flu. In this case, don’t worry, the Centers for Disease Control says what you should be worried about is catching the flu – that does increase the risk of a heart attack. There are even studies that say the flu shot may offer protection against heart attacks.

Having heart disease puts you at risk for serious health complications if you get the flu. Flu season is now here! It is important that those at risk for complications from the flu get vaccinated, even this late in the flu season.

 

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The Mayo Clinic is even more adamant with a page other website - Flu shots: Especially important if you have heart disease.

“If you have heart disease, flu season can be a dangerous time. Death from influenza (flu) is more common among people with heart disease than among people with any other chronic condition. Fortunately, getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of catching the flu or developing complications from the flu,” say the Mayo Clinic doctors.

“Doctors have long recommended that older adults and other high-risk groups get flu shots, but they now emphasize the importance of flu shots for those with heart disease. The flu shot could prevent thousands of flu-related complications and deaths every year in people who have heart disease.”

The real clincher, however, is a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 that found the flu shot appears to actually prevent heart attacks.

“The use of influenza vaccine was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. The greatest treatment effect was seen among the highest-risk patients with more active coronary disease,” concluded the researchers who reviewed many research reports.

CDC’s Advice

Here's what the CDC says you need to know if you have heart disease:

  ●  If you get the flu you are at increased risk of having a heart attack.

  ●  Get the flu vaccine. It is your best protection against the flu.

  ●  If you have heart disease you should get the flu shot, not the nasal spray.

  ●  If you have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.

  ●  In addition to following treatment recommendations from your health care provider, you should continue taking your prescription medications.

  ●  If you notice changes in your breathing contact your health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately.

Why does having heart disease put me at risk for getting the flu?

Heart disease can make your body too weak to fight off the flu. The flu can make your heart disease worse. If you contract the flu you are at increased risk of having a heart attack.

Heart disease also increases your risk of experiencing flu-related complications such as pneumonia.

How can I protect myself from getting the flu?

Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. The nasal spray vaccine is not safe for people with heart disease. You should get a flu shot.

Because you are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia, talk to your health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine. The pneumococcal vaccine will protect you against pneumonia. In addition to getting vaccinated, follow flu.gov's everyday steps to keep yourself healthy this flu season

  ●  Find a place to get the flu vaccine in your area.

  ●  Learn more about the Million Hearts initiative to prevent heart attack and stroke.

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