It’s that time of the year again, where signs everywhere promote the availability of flu shots. Fortunately, for most of us, the flu may make us feel achy and miserable, and cause us to remain out of commission for a few days.

However, for those who have heart disease or who have suffered a stroke, the flu can be much more serious. This is because people affected by heart disease or stroke are more likely to develop flu complications, such as sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, or even a heart attack. It is even possible to develop myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the protective sac around the heart).

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “People with heart disease and other chronic health conditions die from the flu each year. Infections like the flu or pneumonia can place added strain on the heart and other organs.” In fact, individuals with heart disease who contract the flu have a 10 times higher risk of heart attack within 3 days of getting the flu, than those who do not have heart disease. They are also more likely to have a heart attack even weeks after having the flu. And a CDC study of more than 80,000 adults hospitalized with flu found serious, sudden heart complications were common.

The NFID, CDC, and the American Heart Association (AHA), recommend that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine this and every flu season. Not only can it help keep you from getting sick, suffering from complications from the flu, or even dying from the flu, but also it can protect your heart.