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Seasonal influenza, commonly called the flu, is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world. Illnesses range from mild to severe and even death. Hospitalization and death occur mainly among high-risk groups. In persons with cardiovascular disease, systemic respiratory infections, which are frequently caused by influenza viruses, increase the risk of stroke and heart attacks following the onset of infection.


Influenza increases the risk of heart attack more than 10x in the first 7 days after contracting the flu


Vaccination can reduce the risk of heart attacks up to 45%


People are 14x more likely to get vaccinated if a doctor recommends it.

The flu season affects the economy. It not only increases healthcare costs for patients, but also for employers. Healthcare direct costs increase by up to 2x for patients with at least one complication compared to those without complication.1 In Europe, influenza accounts for approximately 10% of sickness absence from work.2 Influenza is a vaccine preventable disease. The flu shot is safe and cost effective. In the European Union (EU 27), influenza vaccination may save up to 37,200 lives and €332 million every season with observed coverage rates and observed vaccine efficacy compared to no vaccination.3

Everybody from all age groups can be affected by the flu. But there are groups that are more at risk than others.

Elderly, people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, children under 5 years old, and pregnant women are at greater risk of severe disease or complications when infected and should get vaccinated against the flu in priority.

Healthcare workers are often at high risk acquiring the flu due to increased exposure to patients and risk further spread particularly to vulnerable individuals.

If you’re part of the same household as high-risk individuals, it is also recommended to get the flu shot to not only protect yourself, but also protect the people you live with.4

Vaccination can reduce the risk of heart attacks by up to 45%.5

Influenza vaccination is safe and cost effective. It saves lives, reduce health care costs, and prevents economic loss. And because cardiovascular disease disproportionately affects disadvantaged groups, it is even more important to consider preventive action.6

Studies indicate that recommendations by physicians is the most effective strategy influencing patients’ behaviour, since the majority of people view their doctors as the most trusted source of health information.7

In partnership with


Taking up arms against the flu

Guest post: Professor Laurence Sperling, Katz Professor in Preventive Cardiology and Professor of Global Health, Founder of The Heart Disease Prevention Center at Emory University and Past-President of The American Society for Preventive Cardiology. The heart is not the first organ we think of during influenza (flu) season. Yet, although influenza impacts the respiratory system, […]


  1. Karve S. et al. 2013;
  2. Keech M. et al. 1998;
  3. Preaud E. et al. 2014;
  4. Bhugra P. et al. 2021;
  5. Macintyre C. et al., 2016;
  6. Sperling L. et al., 2021;
  7. Bhugra P. et al. 2021;