People with heart disease or history of stroke should always get an annual flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the agency recommends flu vaccines for everyone over six months of age, heart patients face elevated risk of serious illness leading to hospitalization and other complications.
Among 80,000 U.S. adults hospitalized for flu between the 2010-11 and 2017-18 flu seasons, half had heart disease, and sudden heart complications occurred in one out of every eight patients, according to the CDC. Flu patients also face significantly elevated risk of heart attack within a week of a confirmed infection, particularly among older adults or patients experiencing their first heart attack.
People with heart disease should also stay up to date on their pneumococcal vaccination, which is typically administered at the same time as the flu shot and protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, a serious flu complication that can result in death.
The CDC urges Americans to get their flu shots by the end of October. Contact your healthcare provider, a pharmacy or your local health department for an appointment or for information about vaccine clinics.