Heart Failure: Avoiding Colds and Flu

Topic Overview

If you have heart failure, it is important that you do as much as possible to avoid catching colds, the flu, and other respiratory infections. Although these may be relatively minor illnesses in healthy people, they are more dangerous if you have heart failure, and you are at higher risk of developing dangerous complications, such as pneumonia.

  • Wash your hands often, especially when you are around people with colds or the flu. Avoid touching your nose and eyes if possible. Germs can enter your body through these mucous membranes.
  • Get the flu vaccine each year, as soon as it's available. Encourage those you live with to do the same, so they won't get the flu and then infect you.
  • Get the pneumococcal vaccine. Usually, people need only one dose of the pneumococcal vaccine. But doctors sometimes recommend a second dose for some people, especially if they have a long-term disease. Talk with your doctor about whether you need a second dose.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: December 16, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Stephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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