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Heart and the flu: Know the signs before it kills you

Posted at 7:53 AM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 08:53:04-05

MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- This has been one of the longest flu seasons in ten years according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s estimated 25 million Americans have been affected. But did you know the flu can attack your heart? Meet one man who nearly ended up on the heart transplant list and why he warns not to ignore the signs.

Alfino Donastorg has always been active, but two years ago he got sick.

“I thought it was just a common cold," said Alfino.

When he became short of breath, he ended up in the hospital.

“They were telling me my heart was failing, heart transplant is imminent.”

Alfino had cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle that led to congestive heart failure at age 38.

Yordanka Reyna, MD, Cardiologist, Specializes in Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant, Reyna Heart Center said, “He was a healthy young man who was just exposed to the flu and it attacked his heart.”

Dr. Reyna says the flu causes inflammation that can quickly lead to cardiac symptoms.

“Shortness of breath, leg swelling, a cough at night,” continued Dr. Reyna.

She says heart disease due to flu can happen to anyone, so if you think you have the flu, get help.

“Go to the emergency room, go to their doctors, they will be tested very easily and very fast,” said Dr. Reyna.

Dr. Reyna worked to keep Alfino off the heart transplant list.

Dr. Reyna shared, “We managed to get him better with intravenous medicines, diuretics.”

Alfino still can’t believe how close he came to death.

“Your body tells you, 'Hey listen, there’s something that’s not right, please get checked out,'” said Alfino.

Alfino’s message to everyone: don’t ignore the signs.

Alfino will continue to be closely monitored and will most likely be on heart medications the rest of his life. He says his next goal is to travel to Japan and climb Mount Fuji.

Dr. Reyna reminds everyone to get vaccinated for the flu every season because the strains change. She says if you do have the flu and you’re taking an anti-viral medication like Tamiflu but don’t improve within a week, call your doctor or get to the ER.

For more information on the flu and heart disease go to