Heart Disease and Colds

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on May 15, 2023
2 min read

If you have heart disease, take extra care to avoid catching a cold. It can sometimes lead to complications that can cause some serious problems.

If your cold turns into pneumonia, for instance, that makes it tougher for you to take in oxygen. As a result, your heart will need to work harder to pump blood throughout your body.

Learn what you can do to protect your health and feel your best.

Avoid any medicine that has a decongestant in it, because it can raise your blood pressure.

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before you try any over-the counter cold medicine to make sure it doesn't interfere with your other medications.

Your best defense is to make sure you and your family wash your hands regularly.

Also try to avoid crowds during cold and flu season. Keep your immune system working at its best -- get plenty of sleep, eat a nutritious diet, exercise  regularly, and manage your stress.

Watch what you breathe in, too: Avoid cigarette smoke and air pollution.

While there's no vaccine against the cold, there are immunizations that can help prevent other risky infections, like pneumonia and the flu.

The CDC says people with heart disease should get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year. That way your body has time to build up enough antibody defenses before the flu season kicks into high gear. It can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

It's best to get vaccinated before October, but you can still do it until the end of flu season. The shot usually starts to protect you about 2 weeks after you get it.

There are two pneumonia vaccines to help protect adults against pneumococcal pneumonia. You will begin to get them once you turn age 65, or earlier if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor to see if you need a pneumonia vaccine.