The common cold and flu are tough on everyone, but if you have heart disease, you’re at a higher risk of experiencing complications. Viral infections like the flu and cold increase stress on your body and affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and heart function. What’s more, common over-the-counter decongestants and cold medications are also risky because they raise blood pressure.
Additional Risks for Heart Patients
Heart patients also experience an increased risk of pneumonia, which develops from both bacterial and viral infections including cold and flu. Pneumonia forces the heart to work harder to pump blood which increases the risk of a cardiac event. You can read more about pneumonia and its complications in our recent blog, When Should I Call My Doctor About My Pneumonia Symptoms?
What to do when You Get Sick
So what do you do when you get a cold or the flu and you have a heart problem? First, get a flu shot each year as soon as the vaccine becomes available. Be sure you receive the flu shot and not the flu nasal mist as it has not been proven safe for people with heart disease. However, the flu shot has been proven to decrease the risk of a heart attack due to the flu as well as other flu complications.
If a flu shot doesn’t keep the flu away or you develop cold or flu-like symptoms, always visit your medical provider at the first signs of sickness. Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but cold symptoms usually develop slowly while the flu tends to hit all at once. You can read more about the difference between cold and flu symptoms here. Knowing the difference prevents you from taking OTC medication that won’t work and helps you decide if you need a flu test and treatment from your provider.
Visiting your provider at the first signs of sickness allows for a quick diagnosis and proper treatment, as well as provides a look into how the illness is affecting your heart health. If you are visiting a new urgent care provider, be sure to inform them of your heart condition.
EliteCare is open 7 days a week and we’re now open until 7 pm Monday through Friday. If you are a heart patient experiencing cold or flu symptoms, visit us today to get a diagnosis and start treatment before complications occur. Walk-ins are welcome or you can request an appointment at 662-348-3342.