Protect Your Heart Health and Get Vaccinated

If you’re living with heart disease, you make lots of decisions every day to keep your heart in good graces. Maybe you’re maintaining a healthy diet, snubbing smoking and taking your medications faithfully. But you may not be aware of another key step to ensure good heart health: staying up-to-date on your vaccines.

Don't Be a Victim of Inflammation
People who battle cardiovascular diseases are at a greater risk for complications that stem from common infections such as the flu, shingles, whooping cough and pneumonia, to name a few. Why? Even though your body does its best to fight back and get healthy, it also responds with inflammation. That's not good news for your heart, and in some cases may prove deadly . It's important to know that inflammation can further damage your heart and increase the likelihood of a heart attack. And the reverse is true, too. Heart disease makes it harder to fight off illnesses like pneumonia and the flu, which also can boost your chances of hospitalization and severe complications.

What's worse is that vaccination rates in the U.S. remain extremely low. For example, just 20% of American adults considered high-risk (that includes people with heart disease) got their pneumococcal vaccine in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And flu vaccination rates aren't much better -- just 39% for high-risk people age 18-49, and 42% overall. Many people don't even keep a schedule of what vaccines they may need and when to get them. However, now is time to finally take a stand, protect your heart, boost your longevity and not just be another unfortunate statistic.

Empower Your Total Health
Some may worry about the safety of vaccines and their side effects. But you should know that vaccines are constantly tested and monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC, and are still one of the safest ways to protect your health -- and your ticker, too.

Talk to your doctor. Whether you see a cardiologist or your primary care doctor, be sure to get your vaccination questions answered so they can help you make the right decisions.

Stay up-to-date. Keep a schedule of the vaccinations you received. The CDC has also issued an easy-to-read vaccine schedule that you can refer to when you go see your doc.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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