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Heart Disease and the Flu

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If you have heart disease, it's important to do all you can to avoid getting the flu.

You’ll have a harder time fighting off viruses that cause the illness. In fact, people with heart trouble are more likely to get the flu than people with any other long-term (chronic) illness.

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Viral infections like the flu also put added stress on your body, which can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and overall heart function. That can raise your odds of having a heart attack or stroke.

But none of this has to happen. The flu is easy to prevent. You can take simple steps now to avoid serious problems later on.

Know the Symptoms

The flu usually comes on quickly. You have:

Choose a Safe Medication

When you’re shopping for an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, check the label. Look for a product that’s decongestant-free or made just for people with high blood pressure. Decongestants can raise your blood pressure and interfere with other medications.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you try any OTC treatment. Make sure you tell each of your doctors about all of the medicines you're taking -- prescription and over the counter.

Try to Stay Well

Get a flu shot. The CDC says the best time to do it is as soon as the shot becomes available in the fall. If you miss it then, you can get it in January or even later. Flu season can begin as early as October and last through May -- but the earlier in the season you get vaccinated, the better.

Ask for the flu shot, not FluMist. People with heart disease shouldn’t receive the live vaccine that’s given as a nasal spray in FluMist.

You can take other steps to stay well, too. Keep your hands clean to help prevent the flu. Thorough washing is vital to keep germs off your hands, so you don't bring them into your body through your mouth, nose, or eyes.

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