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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Can the flu virus put my heart at risk?

Posted By: Advancing Care

Believe it or not, the heart can become severely damaged from the influenza virus, says Bruce M. Toporoff, MD, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of WMCHealth. Dr. Toporoff explains: “As a cardiac surgeon, I care for one or two young patients every year [under 50 years old] who catch the flu and experience severe heart damage. Sometimes, patients as young as 30 will have severe heart-muscle damage from influenza and will come to the hospital in heart failure. Some of these patients will get better. But many, probably half, will never recover and may need heart transplantation in the future.” Bottom line, Dr. Toporoff advises, this devastating complication can be prevented with a simple flu shot.

Is the flu shot safe for patients with weak hearts?

According to Dr. Toporoff, not only is it safe for heart patients to get a flu shot, it is the recommended course of action. “Especially after cardiac surgery, when the immune system is suppressed, we recommend all our patients get the flu shot before they are discharged,” he says.

Westchester Medical Center


Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital


MidHudson Regional Hospital