Harvard Heart Letter

Another reason to get a flu shot: your heart

In the hoopla over swine (H1N1) flu, don't ignore the "regular" flu.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, what are you waiting for? The hour or so it would take is nothing compared with the time you might spend fighting the flu or something worse — like recovering from the heart attack it could trigger.

As of early October 2009, much of the focus has been on swine flu (more formally called H1N1 flu). That's understandable. H1N1 is new, and no one knows how much damage it will cause. But the "regular" flu isn't something to sneeze at. Seasonal flu kills about 36,000 people each year in the United States, hospitalizes more than 200,000, and costs us more than $10 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.

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