Flu and Heart Disease
People with heart conditions are more likely to become very sick if they get the flu. Annual flu vaccination can help prevent complications, hospitalization, and even death.
Risks of Flu Illness for People with Heart Disease
There is a strong connection between flu and heart disease:
- 10x increased risk of heart attack within 1-3 days of flu infection
- Inflammation in the body leads to an increased risk of a heart attack weeks after acute flu infection
- As many as 1 in 5 heart failure hospitalizations are be triggered by the flu during months when influenza viruses are circulating at high rates.
- During a recent flu season, sudden, serious heart complications occurred in 1 out of every 8 flu patients
Benefits of Flu Vaccination for People with Heart Disease
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of cardiac death by up to 50% for people with heart disease
- Flu vaccination can reduce major cardiovascular events by 43%
- Flu vaccination can be equally or even more effective at preventing heart attacks than other behavioral modifications or medications such as:
- statins (19-30%)
- antihypertensive therapy (17-25%)
- smoking cessation (32-43%)
Flu Vaccines for People with Heart Disease
Annual flu vaccination is necessary for all people 6 months and older.
People with heart disease should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine. However, if you are between ages 2-49 and high blood pressure is your only cardiac condition, the nasal spray vaccine may be an option.
Talk to your healthcare provider about which flu vaccine is best for you.
Page last reviewed: November 2021.