Avoiding Flu and Pneumonia with Heart Failure

Updated:Sep 21,2012

Flu and pneumonia pose greater dangers for people who have heart failure (or any heart condition) than for healthy people.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that keeps your body from using oxygen as efficiently as it should. Your heart has to work harder to pump oxygenated blood through the body. People with heart failure should avoid putting this extra stress on their heart.

Get vaccinated
Ask a healthcare professional about getting a yearly influenza vaccine and a one-time pneumococcal vaccine (to guard against the most common form of bacterial pneumonia). Both vaccines are generally safe and seldom cause any severe reactions. It's much riskier not to have them. You might have some pain or swelling at the site of the shot (on the arm), but this will go away after a few days.

Find a flu shot near you.

Other tips for staying well
  • As much as possible, avoid anyone who has a cold or the flu.
  • Stay out of crowds during the height of flu season (usually October through March).
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Insist that all caregivers wash their hands thoroughly before approaching you.