Can Flu Jabs protect against Heart Attacks ?

22.07.2022 Category: Flu Jabs Author: Dr Richard Dawood

If you have a heart condition you have a greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from flu (seasonal influenza) than the general population. In addition, having the flu can exacerbate pre-existing conditions like diabetes or asthma.

According to the NHS, “every year over 11,000 people in England die from complications caused by the flu virus. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by having the flu vaccination.”

Preventing the flu in the first place is the best option.
The best protection is to have a Flu Vaccine each winter.

What is the flu?
Many people think having influenza, also known as the flu, is like having a bad cold, but in reality flu is a nasty respiratory virus that can make you very unwell. Influenza causes inflammation in the body and can be very serious – sometimes leading to hospitalisation or even death. 

There is evidence that heart attacks happen more often during or immediately after an acute inflammatory illness, such as flu. 

A flu jab is the best protection against flu.
In general, the flu causes stress and inflammation on the body, increasing blood pressure, heart rate and  heart function. This is not good for someone with heart or circulatory problems. 

Flu vaccination is strongly recommended for anyone who has ever had a heart attack, stroke or has underlying heart disease. A previous diagnosis of heart or circulatory diseases is considered a high risk factor for complications or even another heart attack, for anyone who becomes ill with flu. 

Does flu affect heart medication?
If you take warfarin, flu symptoms can affect your blood clotting rate (INR). You should speak to your doctor if this happens so they can monitor your situation closely. It does also mean if you do become unwell, it may take you longer to recover than the average person.

In addition, some over-the-counter flu medicines can’t be used when taking medicines for heart conditions, so contact your doctor before taking things like painkillers and cough medicines. It is better to check before beginning any new medications.

When is the best time to get the flu jab?
Flu vaccinations become available from mid to late September, and through the season until February. It’s best to get your flu vaccine in September or October. The peak time for catching flu runs from Christmas to Easter. The aim is to be vaccinated before flu transmission starts, and to allow at least a couple of weeks post-vaccination, for maximum immunity to develop. The sooner you have the vaccination, the sooner you will be protected. 

You can book your quadrivalent flu jab online.

If you are wanting an egg-free alternative, FluAd (for those aged 65 year and older), nasal spray or the premium recombinant flu jab, please call to book.

It is important to have a flu jab every year because the flu virus can change. There are many strains of flu already and some are more dominant than others. Each year strains are analysed to determine which strains are likely to be the prevalent strains circulating that year. They can vary year to year so relying on a past vaccination for protection is risky. The previous year’s vaccine may not offer you the right protection against the strains in circulation this year. 

In addition, immunity to flu decreases over time. Exposure to the flu virus strengthens the immune response and offers natural protection. With less flu circulating over the past few years due to covid restriction measures, natural immunity in the general population will have decreased. 

A flu vaccine will boost immunity.

In comparison to the previous year many workers have now returned to the office, social distancing restrictions have eased and in general there are less protective measures set in place. This means that there is a greater chance of the flu spreading and more people falling ill this winter. Although there has been a massive easing of covid restrictions this year that doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over. With both illnesses circulating around it is highly recommended to reduce the risk by getting the flu jab.

Protect yourself against the flu.
You can find more information on the types of flu vaccines available

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Flujabs.org is part of Fleet Street Clinic and has been providing workplace flu vaccinations to UK businesses for many years. 

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