Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Stick it to 'em

Heart Beat

Stick it to 'em

Cardiologists are being urged to add an invasive procedure "" flu shots "" to their office-based practices. People traditionally get their yearly vaccination against the flu from their primary care physicians. But since only 1 in 3 people with heart disease get vaccinated each year, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association are advising cardiologists to stock the vaccine and offer it to their patients during routine visits.

Getting vaccinated at the start of each flu season is a good idea for people with heart disease. On the most basic level, it can ward off the misery of the flu. More important, it can help protect against having a heart attack or stroke. Influenza can directly worsen heart disease. It can also lead to pneumonia, which strains the heart and the rest of the body. The two heart organizations endorse influenza vaccination "with the same enthusiasm as control of cholesterol, blood pressure, and other modifiable risk factors," according to their Spring 2006 vaccination recommendations.

It's best to get your flu shot at the start of the flu season, which begins around the end of November. If you haven't gotten yours yet, ask one of your doctors to do it.

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