How The Flu Affects Your Heart
Bad news: Flu season isn’t over yet, according to recent reports from the CDC. Infection rates have increased in many areas of the country, and this is especially dangerous for people with heart disease.
“Flu can make a cholesterol filled plaque vulnerable to rupture, form a blood clot and cause heart attacks and sudden death,” according to Saint John board-certified cardiologist Venkat Pasnoori, MD, MPH, FACC FSCAI.
Having any kind of viral infection, such as the flu, makes the heart work harder. In an effort to fight off the infection, the body releases chemicals that often cause inflammation, blood clotting and elevated blood pressure. This added stress on the cardiovascular system could be overwhelming to an already weakened heart muscle, which may explain why the incidence of heart attacks consistently rises during flu season. New studies indicate that the risk of heart attack doubles in the week following a flu-like infection.
When combined with existing heart problems, the flu virus can also increase the risk of other serious complications, such as pneumonia and stroke. Among those hospitalized for flu complications last year, heart disease was named as a frequent factor and the most recurring chronic condition reported in cases of adult flu hospitalizations.
Myth #: Pregnant People Shouldnt Get The Flu Vaccine
The flu shot is not connected to miscarriage, as some people falsely assume. In fact, the influenza virus not its vaccine is whats linked to miscarriage and other potential problems for a pregnant person and their unborn child. According to the CDC, millions of pregnant people have gotten vaccinated safely, and a large body of evidence supports the shots safety.
For this reason, except in rare cases when the pregnant person has a severe, life-threatening allergy to a component of the vaccine, experts strongly recommend they get a flu shot. Besides protecting the parent and the developing fetus from the virus, the immune defenses from vaccination will continue to safeguard the baby once theyre born. This coverage will last until the child is six months old and can receive their own flu vaccine.
Risk Of Subacute Thyroiditis
There have been several isolated reportsincluding one from China and another from Turkeysuggesting that subacute thyroiditis , also called de Quervain thyroiditis or granulomatous thyroiditis, may be triggered by the flu vaccine.
SAT is an inflammatory condition usually triggered by an upper respiratory tract infection that overstimulates the thyroid gland. This is a self-limiting, non-life-threatening disorder that mostly affects middle-aged women and is associated with thyroid pain, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, fever, fatigue, sweating, and other symptoms.
In both of the aforementioned cases, the vaccine was made with an inactivated virus the two female patients had no prior history of thyroid disease. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids were used to treat their inflammation and fever. The thyroid drug levothyroxine was used in one patient and increased when her condition relapsed several months later.
While the potential connection is attention-grabbing, both research teams deemed the SAT events rare and isolated. While cases like these may suggest that a flu shot can trigger a relapse of thyroid symptoms, particularly in those with hyperthyroidism , there is no evidence to date that is possible or even likely.
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Myth #: Healthy People Dont Die From The Flu
Although it is true that people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or cancer have a greater risk of flu-related complications and death, plenty of otherwise healthy adults and children wind up in the hospital from influenza. Some even die from the disease, making arguments against the flu vaccine thin on this ground.
But lets assume for a second that you have only mild symptoms, or youre among the 20 to 30 percent of flu carriers who have no symptoms at all. Even so, you can spread influenza to others who may not be so lucky they could become extremely ill or even die. The best way to protect yourself and those around you is clear: Get an annual flu vaccine.
Why Is It Important To Get The Covid
People who have a heart condition, vascular disease or risk factors for these conditions are at higher risk of complications, including death, if they are infected with COVID-19. For this reason, most people with heart disease should get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves.
Each persons heart condition is different. Talk to your health-care team about the COVID-19 vaccine and whether it is right for you.
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Flu Shot Linked To Lower Heart Attack Stroke Risk
- By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Ever since the winter of 2003, when my husband came down with nasty case of the flu that led to a three-week bout of walking pneumonia, hes been religious about getting a flu shot each fall. But the benefits he gains may go beyond warding off respiratory-related problems.
A study published in todays Journal of the American Medical Association finds that getting the influenza vaccine lowers a persons odds of a having heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or other major cardiac eventincluding deathby about a third over the following year.
Whats the connection between flu and cardiovascular problems? When you get the flu, your body mounts an impressive immune response, which causes a lot of inflammation. As a result, the plaque inside your blood vessels can become unstable, which can lead to blockage and a possible heart attack or stroke, says study leader Jacob Udell, MD, a cardiologist at Womens College Hospital in Toronto and a clinician-scientist at the University of Toronto.
Changes in the lungs wrought by the flu virus can lower blood oxygen levels, which makes the heart work harder. The virus can also directly injure heart muscle cells, leading to heart failure or making it worse.
Yet more than half of people younger than 65 with serious health conditions skip an annual flu shot, as do about a third of all people older than 65.
Natural Immunity And Disease Prevention
Vaccines help your immune system get ready to protect against a disease without making you sick.
You may become naturally immune after being exposed to a disease. However, the risks of severe complications or even death are much greater than the risks of a severe reaction after getting a vaccine.
For example, if your child gets meningitis naturally, they have a 1 in 10 chance of dying. Those that survive have a 1 in 5 chance of:
- loss of limbs
- brain damage
An infected person can also spread the disease to others in the community before they show symptoms. Groups at risk include:
- older adults
- those with underlying health conditions
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Q: Who Are The Most At Risk For Flu Complications
A: You are at high risk for developing flu complications if you have:
- Other severe health problems, including heart disease.
- A compromised immune system due to age or pregnancy.
If you fall into one of these categories, you are also thought to be at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This makes it especially important to be proactive and cautious this flu season.
The Protective Effect Of Flu Vaccination
Because influenza viruses are constantly mutating, scientists alter the vaccine each year to match the likely prevalent strands. On average, it’s effective at preventing infection 40% of the time. While that might not sound great especially in comparison to the highly effective mRNA COVID-19 vaccines it’s enough to significantly lower the risk of severe illness in most people.
Lately, studies have been able to show that not only is the vaccine effective at protecting the general population and the most vulnerable age groups from severe cases of the flu, but it’s also protective against cardiovascular mortality as well, especially among the high-risk population.
Some of the recent findings:
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Why Dont People Get Vaccinated
Sanchez notes that 30 percent of people arent vaccinated. Among the uninsured, its double that rate.
The study reminds us of what happens when you compare populations of people with insurance to people without insurance, he said.
However, Braun doesnt see insurance as a barrier to the flu shot.
Walgreens and CVS, the two predominant pharmacies, advertise free flu shots, so I dont think insurance is a barrier, she said.
Instead, she points to preset ideas and a lack of awareness.
Lack of education in respect to understanding the importance of the flu shot, Braun said. I know this from my own clinical practice. There are individuals who oppose the flu vaccine and many other vaccines.
The problem is, says Braun, that some people still believe theyll get the flu from getting the flu vaccine.
Many years ago, they may have had the vaccine and felt ill and thats that. They wont entertain the notion again. We struggle with that all the time, she said.
Helping people unlearn potentially lethal misconceptions about the flu shot begins in the primary care office.
Patients who I see on a regular basis, many of them know to get their flu shot on an annual basis, but it has to be taught to them by the care team monitoring their chronic illness, said Rizzo. Pharmaceutical drug stores offer it and that helps, but then it falls back on the awareness of the individual.
Braun has simple advice on how people can help stop the flu from spreading:
Can People Have An Allergic Reaction To The Flu Shot
A flu immunization may produce an allergic reaction, but instances of this are very rare, and effective treatments can quickly resolve any trouble.
Most vaccines are developed from chicken eggs. The CDC cautions that people who have a history of a severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.
Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are now widely available the quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and the quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
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Flu Shot And Heart Disease
Tags: Vaccines , Cold and Flu , Heart Attack , Heart Disease , Heart Failure ,
It’s that time of the year, flu season, and the best way to avoiding coming down with the flu is a flu shot. The annual flu shot will offer protection against three or four of the influenza viruses anticipated to be in circulation this flu season. It is suggested that all persons ages 6 months and older, with few exceptions, get vaccinated each year for common flu strains.
Choose A Safe Medication
When youâre shopping for an over-the-counter medication, check the label. Look for a product thatâs decongestant-free or made just for people with high blood pressure. can raise your blood pressure and interfere with other medications.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you try any OTC treatment. Make sure you tell each of your doctors about all of the medicines you’re taking — prescription and over the counter.
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Flu Shot Side Effects : What’s Normal And What’s Cause For Concern
All vaccines have the potential to cause side effects, and that includes your yearly flu shot. But most are totally normal.
The coronavirus is still a very real concern this fall, but so is the influenza virus, aka the flu. The good news is we have very safe and effective tools for fighting and preventing both potentially deadly viruses, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine.
According to the CDC, flu shots are safe and one of the best ways to keep from getting and spreading the flu to others. And people who get vaccinated and get sick anyway often experience less severe symptoms. If you’re thinking of getting vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu, the CDC says it is safe to get both vaccines together .
The simple fact is, flu vaccines can save lives. There are plenty of myths out there about the flu vaccine, such as the idea that it can give you the flu. While that’s not true, you can experience some side effects from the flu shot. The side effects are usually mild and nothing to worry about, but it’s important to know about them so you’re not worried when you get your vaccine.
Below, Dr. Carmen Teague, specialty medical director at Atrium Health‘s Mecklenburg Medical Group shares what you need to know about common flu shot side effects that are normal, and which side effects may be a sign of something more serious.
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Redness Or Swelling At The Injection Site
Anytime you pierce the skin and put something into the body it can cause a topical reaction, says Dr. Adalja. This is just a sign that your immune system is activating.
But this redness and swelling where you get your shot is a common side effect that only typically lasts a few days. Itll go away on its own, but if its really bugging you, you can take ibuprofen or acetominophen .
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Findings Sound The Alarm To Improve Influenza Vaccination Rates And Carry Important Lessons For Covid
May 05, 2021
Contact: Sam Roth, email@example.com, 202-375-6582
People with heart disease are more likely to become seriously ill from the flu and other respiratory illnesses, including the coronavirus. Yet, new research finds that only half of Americans with a history of heart disease or stroke report getting an annual flu shot, despite widespread recommendations to do so. Rates of vaccination were even lower among Blacks and Hispanics, according to data being presented at the American College of Cardiologys 70th Annual Scientific Session.
Researchers say the findings should renew efforts to assure flu vaccination is a routine part of quality cardiovascular care.
As a nation, the U.S. healthcare system must do a better job protecting a population that is at very high risk for serious complications and death from the flu, said Varayini Pankayatselvan, MD, an internal medicine resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the studys lead author. As physicians, it is our job to help patients take these simple but effective preventative measures as well as to determine what the barriers to vaccination are, so we can help our patients get around them.
Getting a flu shot also prevents people from transmitting the flu to others, something researchers are hoping will prove true for the COVID-19 vaccine too.
For resources on flu shots and your heart, visit CardioSmart.org/topics/flu-shots-and-your-heart.
How To Protect Yourself From The Flu
Experts agree that the best thing you can do is to get vaccinated against the flu. “The vaccine is the best way to prevent or minimize cardiovascular complications,” Dr. Adalja says. Dr. Weinberg agrees. While the flu vaccine isn’t perfect, she points out that getting it will dramatically lower your risk of getting seriously ill or developing cardiac complications if you happen to get the virus. In fact, a 2021 study published in Vaccine suggests that flu vaccinations resulted in a 26 percent lower risk of ICU admission rate and 31 percent lower risk of death compared to unvaccinated people. And if you’re not exactly sure where to get jabbed, the CDC has a vaccine locater tool that you can use to get your flu shot .
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Take Heart In Research Findings On Flu Shot And Heart Disease
The healthcare industry has long prescribed flu vaccinations to increase a persons shot of avoiding influenza. But now studies are showing an additional value of these vaccinations in the way they reduce the incidence of heart-related maladies like heart attack and heart disease. MD Now takes your health to heart by serving as a quick and convenient source for flu vaccines covering the full range of anticipated 20162017 strains, including the Adult and Pediatric Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine and Fluzone High-Dose Vaccine, recommended for those 65 and older at all of its Florida locations. Discover what health experts are saying about this life-saving connection between the flu shot and heart attack and then head to MD Now because your heart health is nothing to sneeze at.
Arm Yourself with Insight on the Flu Shot Heart Disease Connection
According to a recent study on flu shot and heart disease, the use of the influenza vaccine was directly associated with a reduced risk of severe cardiovascular conditions and events. These findings have led healthcare professionals to declare the flu shot as a simple, smart, and straightforward form of intervention in preventing heart disease and heart attack hospitalizations.
Can Flu Shot Cause Heart Attack?
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Side Effects Of The Flu Shot Are Nothing Compared With Flu Sickness
Many people are also concerned that the possible side effects of the flu shot could be worse than getting the flu itself, notes Horney.
The potential risks of a severe case of influenza far outweigh any very limited risk of side effects , which are typically mild, she says.
Some people equate the flu with having a bad cold. While the flu and the common cold have some symptoms in common, the flu can knock people flat for a few days to as long as two weeks, and it can also have far more dire consequences.
Some people who get the flu will develop complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart , inflammation of the brain , or respiratory failure, which can lead to hospitalization and death, notes the CDC.
Even if youve been vaccinated and still get the flu, you are less likely to die, be hospitalized, or be admitted to the ICU, Horney says.
While incidence of the flu was unusually low last year, thanks to COVID-19 precautions like mandatory masking and stay-at-home orders, the CDC estimates that the 20192020 flu season led to some 400,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 flu deaths.
And we could potentially see numbers like that again this year. As people return to offices and classrooms, and COVID-19 vaccinations lead to more mask-free gatherings, doctors are expecting a major uptick in flu cases this fall and winter.
Indeed, reduced population immunity could result in an early, and possibly severe, flu season, cautions the CDC.
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