The results of two recent studies further emphasize the importance of getting a flu shot, just in case you need convincing.
Jacob A. Udell MD, MPH of the University of Toronto conducted a study that reveals an association between the flu shot and a lowered risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events.
For the study, Dr Udell and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 6 randomized trials involving 6,700 adults with a mean age of 67; meta-analysis is the systematic review and study of prior research.
The team discovered that those who received flu shots were 36% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular issues than those who did not receive the shot. Among patients who had recently undergone treatment for heart problems the association was even more marked: those who were immunized were 55% less likely to experience cardiovascular events within the following year than those who were not.
In an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr Udell emphasized that the severity of the flu causes severe inflammation which affects all of the organs including the heart and the brain. He surmises that this inflammation could disrupt plaque in hardened arteries, which can result in a heart attack. He urges heart patients leaving the hospital after treatment should be immunized before they are discharged.
Another recent study explains why the flu is such an efficient taskmaster: researchers discovered that in mice, the flu attacks cells in the immune system that are the most likely to weaken it. This quarterback sneak-like bombast disrupts the antibody system dramatically, allowing the flu virus to replicate itself in expeditious fashion, leaving the body floundering in its wake.
Although the influenza virus isn’t deadly in and of itself, the wreckage it leaves behind can lead to complications that are. In addition to the above mentioned cardiovascular risks, the risk for pneumonia is significantly greater after the flu; the epithelial cells surrounding and protecting the lungs are severely damaged after the illness, leaving them less able to protect the body against bacterial pneumonia.
The elderly are particularly at risk; according to the CDC, 90% of all flu related deaths are among seniors who have succumbed to pneumonia.
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