Healthcare Professionals

This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees in the UK only – this includes GPs, nurses, practice managers, GP practice administration support, pharmacists and pharmacy counter assistants.

If you are not a healthcare professional or healthcare employee, you should not enter this section – information regarding flu can be found on the main website.

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE

Flu Risks With Chronic Heart Disease

If you have chronic heart disease, you have an increased risk of developing complications from flu, such as a heart attack or stroke1. This is because your heart has to work harder to combat the flu virus and is therefore, under increased stress2,3.

There is also evidence that suggests you are more likely to experience a heart attack during, or immediately after, having the flu2 than someone without heart disease.

According to US statistics, during the last flu season, 41% of people admitted to hospital with flu had heart disease1, including:

  • Heart failure
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Pulmonary heart disease
  • Heart valve disorders
  • Arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation
  • Congenital heart defects

Flu can also interfere with medication you may be taking for your heart condition, such as a blood-thinning drug like Warfarin, as it can affect the clotting-rate of your blood2. And some over-the-counter cold and flu treatments, such as painkillers or cough medicines, can’t be used alongside prescription heart condition medications2. Always speak to your pharmacist if you buy any cold or flu medication and discuss any other medicines you may be taking.

 

Protecting yourself from flu

The flu viruses predominantly circulate during the winter. So you should think about how to help protect yourself as the flu season approaches, as this is when you are most vulnerable.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu4, and if you have chronic heart disease, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS. Get vaccinated early – from October to early November – to ensure you’re protected right through the winter

 

Other ways to avoid infection

You can also take additional steps, such as avoiding public transport and crowds. However, if you’re unable to avoid public transport (for example, if you need to get to hospital for treatment or an appointment), wash your hands after every trip, use the antiseptic hand gel dispensers in the hospital regularly, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible.

 

You can get your free flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy. Most pharmacies in the UK now offer both the NHS free flu jab as well as a private jab. This might be a more convenient option for you. Enter your postcode in the search box above to find your nearest local flu clinic.

*Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.

 

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu and Heart Disease & Stroke. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/heartdisease/ (accessed July 2017)

2. British Heart Foundation. Flu. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/living-with-a-heart-condition/weather-and-your-heart/seasonal-influenza (accessed July 2017)

3. British Heart Foundation. Wise up to winter. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/living-with-a-heart-condition/weather-and-your-heart/cold-weather (accessed July 2017)

4. World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet No. 211, November 2016.
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/index.html (accessed July 2017)

Adverse Event Reporting

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE