Seriously? Yes. You see, the influenza virus can cause an inflammatory reaction all over your body. That’s why you feel miserable. And, when that reaction happens, it also can irritate the lining of your arteries. If those arteries are already in trouble with plaque buildup, the inflammation can prompt a tear. A blood clot could form, blocking blood flow to your heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.
“So I tell patients, get a flu shot,” says Kopecky. “Not because I’m so concerned about them getting the flu, but I’m concerned about them having a heart attack or a stroke. And patients, once you tell them that, they say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that. I’ll get my flu shot this year.’ ”