Why a Flu Shot Is Critical for People Who Have Heart Disease


By: Alan Kuo, M.D.

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart or cardiovascular disease is a term used to describe several types of heart conditions. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the U.S. and in Hawaii.

Heart disease may include, but is not limited to, the following cardiovascular conditions:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary heart disease
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Heart valve disorders
  • Arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation

What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Heart Disease?

There are two types of risk factors for heart disease - those you can control and those you cannot control. Risk factors for heart disease that cannot be controlled include your gender, your family medical history and your age.

There are several heart disease risk factors you can take steps to control. These include:

  • Obesity or being overweight - You can talk with your Queen’s primary care provider about ways to reach a healthy weight to better control this risk factor.
  • Physical inactivity - To control this risk factor, consult with your Queen’s provider about beginning a healthy exercise routine.
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels - Controlling unhealthy cholesterol usually entails reducing saturated fats and eliminating trans fats in your diet.
  • High blood pressure - While it may have no symptoms, high blood pressure may be controlled through lifestyle changes or medications.
  • Smoking - Talk to your doctor to get help with smoking cessation options

Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease. These three key risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol.

Why Should I Get a Flu Shot?

A flu shot is the best known protection against seasonal flu. And, given the serious complications those with heart disease can develop, the flu vaccine can protect against flu’s potentially life-threatening complications.

A recent study from The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in a sample of those vaccinated, there was a 36% lower risk of a major cardiac event the following year. The same study showed that vaccines in recent heart attack survivors cut the risk of another heart attack or stroke even further.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a flu shot is even more important. With Coronavirus cases surging, further stressing Hawaii’s health systems, a flu shot can help prevent a “twindemic,” or in other words, large surges of people suffering from Coronavirus and the seasonal flu.

Other reasons to get a flu shot include:

  • Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
  • Getting a flu shot can also save health care resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
  • Flu shots protect yourself, your family, and the community.

Where Can I Get a Flu Shot?         

You can get a flu shot from your Queen’s primary care provider, at Queen’s Island Urgent Care, at many local pharmacies or at one of Queen’s Drive-Thru or Walk-in Flu Shot Clinics.

Take a moment to protect yourself and your ohana this season by getting a flu shot.

If you have questions about the flu or flu vaccine, call our hotline at 808-691-8200 or visit queens.org.

About Alan Kuo, M.D.

Alan Kuo, M.D., is a General Cardiologist at Queen’s Heart Institute, part of The Queen’s Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Hawai’i. As a General Cardiologist, Dr. Kuo specializes in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases with a focus in echocardiography and outpatient and inpatient consultative cardiology.

He has a special interest in medical/clinical informatics, data analytics, and medical education. Dr. Kuo is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Dr. Kuo completed both his medical degree and internal medicine residency at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He went on to complete a cardiovascular disease fellowship at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as well.                            

  • Board Eligible in Cardiovascular Disease
  • Board-certified in Internal Medicine
  • Board Eligible in Adult Echocardiography
  • Board Eligible in Nuclear Cardiology
  • Board Eligible in Cardiovascular Computed Tomography
  • Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship, UCLA Medical Center
  • Internal Medicine Residency, UCLA Medical Center
  • MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, UCLA

Dr. Kuo sees patients at an outpatient cardiology practice located on South Beretania Street in Honolulu, adjacent to The Queen’s Medical Center’s Punchbowl locations. To learn more about Dr. Kuo and Queen’s Heart Institute, visit queens.org or call (808) 691-8900 to schedule an appointment.








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