February 12, 2021

Flu & Heart Disease

In the US, one in four deaths is caused by heart disease, making it one of the leading causes of death. To help raise awareness about the importance of heart-healthy lifestyle choices, including annual influenza (flu) vaccination, American Heart Month is observed in the US each February.

Flu & Heart DiseaseFlu is particularly dangerous for adults with chronic health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, even when these conditions are well-managed. Weeks after initial infection, flu can cause an inflammatory reaction that can exacerbate underlying conditions, potentially leading to stroke, hospitalization, progressive disability, and even death.

In the US, more than 30 million adults have heart disease and are at six times increased risk of heart attack within seven days of flu infection. Additionally, many of the underlying health conditions that place adults at greater risk for flu-related complications are also linked to increased vulnerability to COVID-19.

Dangers of Flu and COVID-19 in Adults with Chronic Health ConditionsUnfortunately, an annual flu vaccine is often overlooked as one of the most effective measures to prevent a cardiovascular event. A recent survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) found that nearly one in four US adults at high risk for flu-related complications said they did not plan to get vaccinated during the 2020-2021 flu season.

Flu vaccination for patients with heart disease can be just as effective as quitting smoking …

-Allen J. Taylor, MD, MedStar Washington Hospital Center

While flu vaccinations are typically administered in the fall, it is not too late to get an annual flu vaccine. In fact, flu activity often peaks between December and February, and seasonal activity can extend until April.

American Heart Month is the perfect time to help protect yourself and your loved ones with an annual flu vaccine, especially if you have heart disease or other chronic health conditions. Talk to a healthcare professional if you have not yet received a flu vaccine this season.

Learn more about the risks of flu in adults with chronic health conditions

Tools to Help #LowerYourFluRisk

NFID has developed the following resources to help share the importance of annual flu vaccination and lower the risk of flu-related complications for those with heart disease:

  • 30-second public service announcement (PSA) and shareable social videos
  • Infographics for healthcare professionals and patients
  • Sample social media posts and graphics

To join the conversation and get the latest news on infectious diseases, follow NFID on Twitter using the hashtag #LowerYourFluRisk, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagramvisit us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to receive future NFID Updates.