Flu Triggers Cardiovascular Problems in Patients with Heart Disease

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, December 28th, 2016
Individuals with heart disease have an increased risk of complications from influenza (flu).

The flu is a known risk factor for cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, according to the Killeen Daily Herald. Furthermore, the flu can worsen heart failure or other conditions that put stress on the cardiovascular system, like asthma and diabetes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the flu shot is both safe and effective in patients with heart issues, and they strongly recommend that this patient population get the flu vaccine to prevent complications.

It still remains unclear exactly how the flu triggers cardiovascular problems. According to the Herald, it may cause artery-clogging plaques to become unstable and vulnerable to rupture; it could lower oxygen levels, making the heart work harder; it could directly injure heart cells; or it may put too much stress on the body.

The flu shot reduces the risk of getting the flu, and recent research suggests that getting the vaccine may reduce the risk of heart attack. In a review, investigators found that older adults who received the flu vaccine saw a reduced risk of heart attack by 36% over the 8 months following vaccination.

Older adults with preexisting heart disease who received a flu shot had a reduced risk of heart attack by more than half.

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