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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!


Megan - Health Promotion Specialist

October 30, 2016

Almost a third of people hospitalised with flu in Scotland last winter had a heart condition. Having a long-term illness such as a chest, heart or stroke condition puts you at greater risk of becoming seriously ill. That’s why this year’s flu campaign aims to ensure more people than ever are protected this year from flu and its complications. With warnings that there is the potential for this year’s flu season to be serious, the free flu vaccine provides the best defence.

What is the flu?

Flu is more than a bad cold. Even young, healthy people with flu can feel very unwell. In the most serious cases, flu can bring on other complications, which can result in death.

Having a long-term condition such as a chest, heart or stroke condition puts people at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill, with evidence highlighting that heart attacks happen more often during or immediately after having an acute, inflammatory illness such as flu.

If you have a health condition you are more at risk of flu-related complications and need extra protection.

The best defence against the flu is to get vaccinated

People are being urged to make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated before the low temperatures hit. 

  • Anyone under 65 with existing health conditions (such as a chest, heart or stroke condition); anyone aged 65 or over, and pregnant women are eligible for a free flu vaccination.
  • The vaccine helps to protect against this year’s flu. You have to be vaccinated every year because the virus changes constantly and your immunity reduces over time.
  • The vaccine contains no live viruses, so it can’t give you flu, but it can help stop you catching it.


Speaking about the importance of the vaccine, Dr Gregor Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said:

“This year it is extremely important for people with long-term conditions to protect themselves against what potentially can be a serious illness. The number of people hospitalised with flu last year shows how hard it can hit. That’s why we’re urging those affected to get the free vaccine from their GP; it takes minutes and provides protection for up to a year. It’s quite simply the best defence against flu.”

The earlier you get vaccinated, the less likely you are to get flu.

Make an appointment with your GP practice today

Over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which are caused by, or related to flu.  Make your flu vaccination a priority and book an appointment with your GP practice today.

For more information visit or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.

The CHSS Advice Line Nurses can also answer your questions about flu and chest, heart and stroke conditions. Phone 0808 801 0899 (free from landlines and mobiles).

Credit: this article and the accompanying images were kindly provided by Healthier Scotland and the Scottish Government. Thank you also to Story UK for their assistance with this blog. 

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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