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Flu season could be worse for heart patients, officials warn

Mon, Jan 8, 2018

Don’t ignore reminders to get a flu shot, health experts say.

 

It’s flu season. Health officials caution it could be a severe one.

 

Concern comes from several factors, including this year’s flu season starting a few weeks earlier than usual, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

 

The flu has spread over several continents and this year’s strain is worse than last year’s, experts say

 

This could pose a challenge for heart patients. Resisting the viruses that cause the flu is a tougher job for those whose health is compromised by heart disease, making it more likely they’ll get the flu.

 

The flu leaves most people sick for a few days to weeks, but symptoms are usually more serious for those with heart disease or those who have had a stroke.

 

Heart patients with the flu face the added possibility of bacterial pneumonia, an infection that prevents the lungs from getting enough oxygen into the blood, putting strain on the heart. The strain increases one’s chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

 

“Chronic disease, including heart disease, decreases your body’s ability to fight infections from the flu virus,” says Dr. Scott T. Weslow, an interventional cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Medical Center. “Therefore, the best way to fight the flu is to prevent the flu with the vaccine.”

 

The flu season peaks in February and can last through May, so it’s important to be vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible, the American Heart Association says.

 

“There are other steps you can take to prevent the flu,” says Kelli Frederickson, heart failure clinic coordinator at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. “Wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face with your hands, and avoid people who are already sick. But, the most important and effective thing you can do is to get your flu shot.”

 

Those with heart disease who think they may be experiencing flu-like symptoms are encouraged to see a physician as soon as possible.

 

“Don’t wait to see if the flu will go away on its own. You put yourself at an even greater risk for complications by not seeing a doctor immediately,” Weslow says.

 

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About BayCare Clinic

BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With its 100-plus physicians, BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, serving clinical locations in 13 regional communities. Based in Green Bay, Wis., BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

 

About Aurora BayCare Medical Center

Aurora BayCare Medical Center is a 167-bed, full-service tertiary care hospital located at 2845 Greenbrier Road on Green Bay’s east side. It opened in September 2001 as a joint venture of Aurora Health Care and BayCare Clinic.  Aurora BayCare is committed to creating a better way to provide high quality tertiary healthcare, the latest in medical technology and superior service.

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