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Getting a Flu Shot Could Halve the Risk of Heart Attack

People at high risk of heart disease are being urged to get the flu shot with research suggesting it could halve their risk of heart attack. (1)

The National Heart Foundation of Australia is concerned too few people know the real risks of contracting influenza, especially those with heart conditions.

“People who have a heart condition are at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population,” said the Heart Foundation’s National Cardiovascular Health Director, Dr Robert Grenfell.

“The flu is more than a bad cold – influenza is a potentially fatal disease.   Common symptoms are similar to a cold, but last longer and are more severe.  Some symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and pain, a fever and coughing.

“There is a plethora of research that points to the fact that the influenza vaccine provides protection against heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death globally and in Australia,” Dr Grenfell said.

Evidence also shows among those who are at high risk and who catch the flu, are less likely to suffer a heart attack if they have been vaccinated.(2)

Some medicines used to relieve flu symptoms can interact with medicines prescribed for heart conditions.  In particular, Warfarin, a blood thinning medication, can be affected by cold or flu symptoms.

“People’s blood pressure varies with changes in temperature and for those with existing heart conditions, a change in blood pressure can put the body under extra strain, leading to a greater risk of heart attack or stroke,” he said.

“It is important, particularly in winter, that people looks after themselves by eating well, keeping warm without overheating and that they continue to be physically active.

“If you do have an existing heart condition, see your GP today and have the flu shot to reduce your risk of further damage to your heart during the colder months,” Dr Grenfell said.

For more information, visit the www.heartfoundation.org.au/flu or contact the Heart Foundation’s free Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87.
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