A flu shot is a good idea for everyone, but certain groups of people – such as those with cardiovascular disease (CVD) – should make an extra effort to be vaccinated. Unfortunately those with CVD are more likely to die from complications caused by the flu than others. About 36,000 people die of the flu and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from flu complications each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read what Perry J. Weinstock, M.D., FACC, Director of Clinical Cardiology at Cooper University Hospital, says about a new recommendation from the American Heart Association.
What did the American Heart Association say about people with CVD?
Dr. Perry Weinstock: This is the first time that the American Heart Association has issued a statement about people with cardiovascular disease and the flu vaccine. The Heart Association said deaths caused by the flu are more common among individuals with CVD than those with any other chronic condition. It is not well understood why people with CVD have higher risks, but these patients typically are sicker in general and older. For example, someone who is 60 years old and has diabetes and high blood pressure has a greater risk of life-threatening complications.
What complications are caused by the flu?
Dr. Weinstock: The flu can lead to bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and dehydration. These illnesses can complicate the medical condition of patients who are already coping with heart disease.
When is the best time to get vaccinated?
Dr. Weinstock: People with CVD should receive the flu vaccine in mid to late autumn. It will take about two weeks for you to have full protection. Influenza vaccine are updated each year; therefore, an annual flu shot is recommended.
Can people with CVD get shots from Cooper doctors?
Dr. Weinstock: It’s extremely important that our cardiac patients receive the flu shot. A Cooper primary care physician can provide the flu shot, as can many local health departments and pharmacies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the following groups are at high risk for complications from the flu:
- Children aged 6 months until their fifth birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
To make an appointment with a Cooper University Hospital physician at an office near you, please call 1-800-8-COOPER (800-826-6737) to speak with a member of our physician referral and information service.