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Managing Congestive Heart Failure with the Flu

older woman coughing

What can seasonal influenza mean for individuals with preexisting health concerns like congestive heart failure (CHF)? While everyone is susceptible to the influenza virus, vaccinated or not, those with comorbidities are more likely to suffer from exacerbated flu symptoms—developing serious complications. In light of the pandemic and the similar respiratory aggravations that could occur from contracting either COVID-19 or influenza (flu), if you or a loved one suffers from CHF, preparing for the 2020-2021 flu season should be a high priority. In addition to receiving the flu vaccination, learning ways to manage your comorbidity with the flu can help you be prepared in case of contraction. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the relationship between congestive heart failure and influenza as well as offer strategies on how to manage CHF with the flu.

Flu & People With Congestive Heart Failure

For many adults, the flu is an unpleasant illness with a likely full recovery in less than two weeks. However, individuals with compromised immune systems, congestive heart failure, and other comorbidities face different risks. It’s easy to overlook the relationship between the flu and CHF. As a respiratory illness, the influenza virus can wreak havoc on the lungs, nasal passage, sinuses, etc.—systems that are usually already compromised by CHF. Together, these respiratory complications make it much more difficult for someone with heart failure to breathe fully and easily, stumping the recovery process and increasing the likelihood of risks. 

That being said, it’s important to note that having a heart condition—like CHF—won’t necessarily increase your risk of contracting the flu. It can, however, increase the risk of dangerous complications. For individuals with congestive heart failure, contraction of the influenza virus can elevate exacerbations of the comorbidity and, in some scenarios, can be deadly. Research has also shown that for individuals with heart complications and the flu, the risk of heart attack is six times higher following the seven days after a confirmed diagnosis of the flu. While these statistics vary for those with heart failure and the exact risks of contracting the flu aren’t clear for those with CHF, the likelihood of developing symptomatic exacerbations is still a warranted concern. 

How to Manage CHF With the Flu

So, how can someone with CHF manage their condition with the flu? It starts by taking the proper precautions. Social distancing is still being enforced in many public settings, helping minimize the chance of spreading contagious respiratory droplets that could carry either COVID-19, influenza virus, or both. In addition to paying extra care to these public regulations, people with CHF should also thoroughly follow hygiene practices—washing their hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds and disinfecting high-traffic surfaces in the home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also encouraging everyone this 2020-2021 flu season, especially those with heart complications, to receive the flu vaccination. This vaccine is engineered to protect against the flu and its potentially serious complications. 

While following these preventative strategies can help minimize your risk for exposure, even if you follow best practices to a T, contraction of the influenza virus can still happen. In this scenario, closely monitoring your congestive heart failure symptoms is the best thing that you can do. With the flu and CHF, it’s important to stay hydrated and well rested—paying particularly close attention to the following symptoms:

Communicating with your primary care physician, reporting any abnormalities and discomfort, and knowing when to seek immediate medical attention will help you and your medical community keep a close eye on potential complications. For exacerbations and worsening symptoms that require urgent medical care, consider DispatchHealth’s reliable in-home alternative to acute healthcare. Our on-demand service comes to you, helping you stay comfortable and recover in a familiar environment. 

How DispatchHealth Can Help

DispatchHealth’s on-demand services are a valuable resource for anyone with underlying health concerns, providing an urgent healthcare alternative that comes to your place of need. We treat people of all ages with an array of complicated medical issues—including the flu and congestive heart failure—in the comfort of their homes, doing away with transportation, waiting rooms, and impersonal healthcare. Prepared to provide acute in-house medical care, DispatchHealth can address your urgent care needs without a disruptive medical experience. With access to nearly all of the tools and technologies found in an ER, our medical teams will provide you a streamlined service that is just as effective and at one-tenth of the out-of-pocket cost. 

DispatchHealth is here for you this flu season and can also test for COVID-19 as well as treat and support COVID-19 patients, personalizing acute healthcare services to meet your needs. To request care, simply contact us via phone, mobile app, or through our website.

DispatchHealth does not currently offer the flu shot or other immunizations.

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/heartdisease.htm
  2. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2015/november/7-things-to-know-about-the-flu-if-you-have-heart-disease
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/warning-signs-of-heart-failure/managing-heart-failure-symptoms
  4. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/11/09/flu-activity-brings-a-rise-in-heart-failure-hospitalizations 

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