Medical conditions raise danger of flu risk

Carol Moody-Hill got the flu vaccine at the urging of her doctor.
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Most of the people who have passed away due to flu-related illnesses had an underlying medical condition. Studies show that death from the flu is more common among people with heart disease than among people with any other chronic illness.

A total of 40 people in Indiana have now died from the flu.

Carol Moody-Hill has had two heart attacks, most recently in September. She was admitted to Methodist Hospital Tuesday, because lately she's been having a hard time breathing.

While anyone can catch the flu, having heart failure, like Carol, can make it deadly.

"Unfortunately, the flu season is in full swing and we will probably see more deaths with flu," said Dr. Irmina Gradus-Pizlo, a cardiologist at Methodist Hospital.

Cardiologists insist that all heart patients get flu shots and anyone else suffering from a medical condition.

"Death with the flu is more common with patients at risk. Patients with heart failure are one of those and then patients with asthma or pulmonary disorder are also at risk from dying from the flu," Gradus-Pizlo said.

The cardiologist also warns people with heart conditions to be cautious about using over-the-counter flu treatments. She says that decongestants can raise blood pressure and interfere with medications.

"Some of them contain stimulants that cause the heart rate to go higher," Gradus-Pizlo said.

Heeding the doctor's advice, Carol realized it was better late than never to get her flu shot. Especially since it isn't clear if this year's flu season has peaked yet.

The flu vaccine usually takes a couple weeks to set in.