Why do Chronic Heart Disease Patients Experience the Worst Flu Symptoms?If you have heart disease, you will have a more difficult time fighting off the viruses that cause the flu. In fact, cardiac patients are more likely to come down with the flu than folks who have any other type of chronic illness. The added stress the flu puts on your body can affect your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall heart function. As a result, your odds of experiencing a heart attack or stroke are greater.
Staying WellFortunately, the flu is easy to prevent. You can take some precautions now that will save you a whole lot of trouble later on.
- Get a flu shot as soon as they come out in the fall; this is usually in September. The flu season lasts from October to May, and the earlier you get your shot the better.
- Be sure to get the shot, not the mist. People with heart disease cannot tolerate the live virus that is in the mist.
- Wash your hands often, and do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Recognize the SymptomsBe sure to see your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms during flu season:
- High fever
- Warm, flushed skin
- Watery eyes
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Watery nasal discharge
- Generalized weakness
- Severe pain in the muscles around the eye
Make a Safe Medicine ChoiceTalk to your doctor or pharmacist before choosing any over-the-counter (OTC) medication. When you are shopping for an OTC medication, look for a product that is decongestant-free and/or made for people with high blood pressure. Decongestants can interfere with your other medications or make your blood pressure go up. Be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about every OTC and prescription medication you are already taking. Notify your doctor as soon as you begin experiencing flu symptoms. He or she may want you to come into the office for an exam and to run some tests. If you are diagnosed with the flu, he or she will give you an antiviral drug. This will shorten your illness and lessen your symptoms if you take it right away. Call your doctor immediately if you experience:
- Worsening symptoms into the third and fourth day of illness
- Starting to feel a little bit better, then suddenly much worse
- High fever
- Coughing up thick yellow-green mucus
- Chest pain