The impact of influenza, or flu, on those who have had cardiovascular issues including heart attack and stroke is measurable and should be taken seriously. In the 2017-2018 flu season, half of the adults hospitalized because of flu had heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who have had heart attacks and strokes are at high risk for developing complications resulting from flu. October marks the beginning of flu season and preventative measures should be taken now.
Among the complications flu can create for those with cardiovascular issues are bacterial pneumonia, an increase in chronic heart problems and respiratory failure. The restriction of oxygen traveling to the lungs created by pneumonia adds stress to the heart. In order to pump the right amount of oxygen-carrying blood, the heart works harder than it should to compensate, creating a strain on the muscle.
It is estimated that the common cold can be caused by over 100 different viruses. However, there are only three viruses known to bring on influenza. Seasonal outbreaks are caused by flu viruses A and B while type C usually results in milder respiratory symptoms.
Another characteristic that separates flu from colds is that symptoms can appear suddenly. They include body aches, headaches, chills and fever. The CDC notes that fever may not appear in everyone who contracts the flu. Cough, sore throat, runny nose and stuffy nose are also flu symptoms. Sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting will occur.
Emergency Symptoms in Those With Heart Issues
People who have had a heart attack or stroke may see severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Confusion, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath are three of those symptoms. Sudden dizziness, chest or abdominal pain and severe vomiting are also serious signals.
If any of these symptoms appear, a physician or cardiologist should be contacted immediately.
Flu vaccines are updated each year. Calculations are made based on updated information about current circulating viruses and vaccines targeting the prevalent strains are created. The vaccines are safe for most people with cardiovascular health issues. Vaccines are usually administered by a shot in the upper body region, such as the arm, and side effects are generally mild and short-lived. If an allergy to eggs exists or if a reaction has occurred to previous vaccinations, the physician should be notified in advance.
In addition to a flu vaccine, immunization against pneumonia is also recommended. Any vaccine should be thoroughly discussed with a physician or cardiologist to make sure the patient’s body is capable of handling any possible side effects.
Because the season begins in fall and lasts until spring, vaccinations are recommended between August and November.
Along with vaccinations for flu, it is recommended that a two-week supply of an individual’s regular heart medication be kept on hand. Heart medication should never be stopped without consulting a physician and those with heart issues should notify a doctor immediately of any changes in their breathing.
Vaccination is the best method of preventing flu. But, in addition to taking a flu shot, it makes sense to avoid being around people who have it. Additionally, frequent hand washing during flu season and avoiding touching the face with the hands is also recommended. Getting plenty of rest is also imperative. Making sure home and work surfaces are clean also helps.
If someone with heart disease is diagnosed with influenza, immediate treatment is necessary. Antiviral drugs may be prescribed that can help reduce the impact of flu symptoms and help curtail the development of more serious conditions.
To learn more about the impact of the flu on heart patients and prevention, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.