Protecting children, families, and communities against influenza.

People With Certain Health Conditions

Individuals living with certain health conditions, even when these conditions are well-controlled, are at greater risk of flu complications, including hospitalization, catastrophic disability, and even death.

Certain health conditions can put you at greater risk of flu complications.

It's estimated that 31 percent of adults age 50-64 years and 47 percent of those age 65 and older have at least one chronic health condition. However, people of all ages that suffer with the following conditions are at increased risk of flu-related complications:

  • asthma
  • neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
  • chronic lung disease
  • heart disease or had a stroke
  • blood disorders
  • endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes)
  • kidney disorders
  • liver disorders
  • metabolic disorders
  • weakened immune system due to disease or medication (e.g., people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
  • people younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin therapy
  • people with extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or more)
Nathaniel Gorenstein, influenza and asthma

On November 19, 2009, 4-year-old Nate started coughing. As a result his asthma flared up and quickly grew worse.

Read Nate's Story

Danger of Flu in Those With Certain Health Conditions

People with a chronic health condition(s) are at increased risk from flu and associated complications. Some people may not even be aware that they have a chronic health condition. That's why annual flu vaccination is so important for everyone six months of age and older.

Some of the more common conditions that can elevate risk of flu include:



30+ million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, which puts them at high risk of the following flu-related complications:

  • 6x increased risk of hospitalization
  • increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • worsening of diabetic conditions (poor glycemic control and acidosis)
  • increased risk of renal and cardiovascular disease issues
  • permanent physical decline or loss of independence
  • 3x higher risk of death due to flu infection
Diabetes and Influenza Risks



15+ million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with heart disease, which puts them at high risk of the following flu-related complications: 

  • 10x increased risk of heart attack within 3 days of flu infection
  • inflammation in the body that leads to an increased risk of heart attack weeks after acute flu infection
  • permanent physical decline and loss of independence
  • hospitalization
  • stroke
  • death

On average, as many as 1 in 5 heart failure hospitalizations appear to be triggered by the flu during the months when influenza viruses are circulating widely.

Heart Disease and Influenza Risks



31+ million people have asthma or COPD, which increases their risk of serious flu-related complications. Since these people already have sensitive airways, inflammation caused by flu can make their symptoms worse. They could experience:

  • asthma attacks or a worsening of their lung disease
  • progressive loss of lung function
  • complications such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases
  • hospitalization
  • a permanent physical decline and potential loss of independence
  • a high risk of death 
Lung Disease and Influenza Risks

Benefits of Flu Vaccination in Those with Chronic Health Conditions

Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. It has also been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who have had a cardiac event in the past year.

Caroline Miller had mild asthma prior to being in a drug-induced coma, intubated and on a ventilator for 2 weeks with flu.

Read Caroline's Story

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