The flu and heart health

You have likely heard it several times already, get your flu shot. In addition to reducing your risk of getting the flu there is another good reason – to protect your heart.

Studies have shown that the flu is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, “There’s a sixfold increase risk of a heart attack in the week after flu infection,” 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli explained.

“If you look at all the patients hospitalized with flu infection, a large study of 80,000 patients showed, that 1 in 12 people hospitalized with flu infection will have some sort of serious complication associated with heart disease,” Kohli added.

What we are learning from these recent studies, one in 2018 and another in 2020, is that inflammation caused by the flu and the aftermath of that inflammation is triggering heart attacks and other heart events.

Who is most at risk?

Kohli said that older people are most at risk for heart complications after flu infection but interestingly, it is also affecting those who don’t have any history of heart disease.

Studies show that those without a history of heart events seem to have some of the most pronounced cardiac inflammation or heart attacks triggered by flu infection.

What can you do?

Get your flu shot. It is safe and effective and good for your heart, “Those who get the flu shot have a 10% lower risk of having cardiac complications after being hospitalized,” Kohli explained.

If you want to check in on your heart health, sign up for 9Health preventive blood screenings at Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers. You can get the same 9Health blood tests you normally get at 9Health Fairs and at the same discounted rates.

Click here for more on heart health and the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated. In 2020, there is a concern for influenza COVID-19 happening together, so widespread influenza vaccination is of heightened importance.

Those most at risk for the flu virus include:

  • Children under the age of 5
  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain medical conditions

The best time to get a flu shot is during the month of October to make sure you are protected for the flu season. It usually takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop in your body.

If you got a voucher for a free flu shot at the recent fall 9Health Fairs, you can redeem that at Safeway or Albertsons and they’re offering drive-up flu clinics, click or tap here to see participating locations and dates.

If you have a health question you can also talk to a medical professional through the 9Health Neighbors Program by calling 303-698-4455, ext. 2005. Leave a message and a 9Health Medical Volunteer will call you back within 24 hours.

9Health is a 501c-3 community non-profit empowering people to put health in their own hands by providing tools such as preventive health screenings, evidence-based, objective health education and eTools and resources for every day in your health journey.