Every year you are faced with the decision to get your flu shot, or not. While shots are never a welcomed experience, there are many benefits to the flu shot. The most well-known reason is protection against the influenza virus or even a hospital visit related to the flu. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimated that in 2016-2017, 5.3 million people avoided the flu virus because they received the vaccination. The vaccination is incredibly important for pregnant women and young children, but new research reveals that flu vaccination may actually be crucial for those diagnosed with heart failure.
Details of the Study
The research was led by Daniel Modin, an investigator from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. He and his team analyzed data from 134,048 Danish patients newly diagnosed with heart failure. Among those who received the flu shot, 18% showed a reduced risk of premature death compared to those who refused the shot. Those who received an annual flu shot were 19% less likely to die from any form of cardiovascular disease compared to patients who were not vaccinated.
While it is never too late to receive a flu shot, the results were better for the patients who were vaccinated early in the flu season, between the months of September and October. And even though the patients in this study were all recently diagnosed with heart failure, the results strongly support the importance of vaccination for anyone with heart failure.
What is Heart Failure?
When conditions in your heart like narrow arteries or high blood pressure cause your heart to become too weak to pump blood efficiently, you are diagnosed with heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs or feet, a rapid and irregular heartbeat, and swelling in your abdomen. You may also have an inability to exercise or an excessive need to urinate. Rapid weight gain as a result of fluid retention or acute chest pain are other indicators of heart failure. Call your doctor immediately if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, pink foamy mucus, or a rapid or irregular heartbeat. If you have already been diagnosed with heart failure and you experience one or more of these symptoms, your condition may be getting worse and immediate attention is required.
Who is at Risk of Heart Failure?
You are at risk for heart failure if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. In fact, some medications for diabetes may increase your risk, but talk to your doctor before making any changes. Coronary artery disease and heart attack cause your heart to weaken and raise your risk for heart failure. If you have sleep apnea, a congenital heart defect, or valvular heart disease you are at a higher risk for heart failure. Many of these risks are beyond your control and you may need to make some lifestyle changes in order to protect your heart from weakening further. On the other hand, you can make a few adjustments to reduce your risk of heart failure before it becomes an issue. Limit your alcohol and tobacco use, and you’ll strengthen your heart muscle. Avoid the risk of obesity by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. You can also protect your heart by learning how to manage your stress effectively.
If you are concerned about the health of your heart, make an appointment with The Woman’s Clinic today. If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, talk to our team of doctors about the benefits of the flu shot. It just may save your life.