Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Do I need to get a flu vaccination this year?

Q. Now that the fuss over H1N1 swine flu has died down, do I need to get vaccinated this year?

A. You should, indeed, get vaccinated against the flu this year — and every year. That's because the viruses that cause influenza (the flu) and the vaccines against them change from year to year. The 2010 vaccine includes H1N1 and two other viruses likely to be widespread this flu season.

Infections of any kind, including the flu, can make breathing difficult, boost blood pressure, force the heart to beat faster, and rev up inflammation. A healthy heart usually weathers these changes without a problem; a damaged or weakened heart may not.

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