Tag Archives: flu shots

Surprising connection between flu and heart disease

If you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, you already know about the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. But did you know that coming down with the flu can substantially increase the risk of a serious or even fatal cardiac event? Or that getting the influenza vaccine can substantially reduce that risk, even if you do wind up contracting the seasonal virus?

Probably not, if annual influenza vaccination rates are any indication, especially if you’re under the age of 65. According to a Houston Methodist review published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Americans with heart disease continue to have low vaccination rates every year despite higher rates of death and complications from influenza.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The flu vaccination rate for American adults who are less than 65 years of age and have heart disease is less than 50%, compared to 80% in older adults with heart disease.

“It seems that younger Americans with high-risk conditions have not gotten the same memo that their older counterparts have received about the importance of getting the influenza vaccine,” says Dr. Priyanka Bhugra, internal medicine specialist at Houston Methodist and lead author of the JAHA article. “That’s dangerous, considering people with heart conditions are particularly vulnerable to influenza-related heart complications, whether they’ve reached retirement age or not.”

It’s well-known that the flu can lead to significant respiratory symptoms such as pneumonia, bronchitis and bacterial infection of the lungs. The virus’ effects on the heart have historically been harder to parse out, in part because many patients already have a known predisposition to cardiac events and in part because the cardiac event often occurs weeks after the onset of the flu.

But here’s what recent research has shown:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Performance feedback at clinics increases flu vaccination rates

Every year the flu threatens the health of millions of people. Experts continue to recommend annual flu vaccination as the best line of defense, but despite these recommendations, flu vaccination rates haven’t broken 50% in more than a decade. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science seeks to overcome this. The study finds that performance feedback at healthcare clinics can significantly increase vaccination rates. This has important public policy implications. Citing other research, the authors highlight that even just a 1% increase in U.S. adult flu vaccination rates could translate to some $400 million in societal benefits.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The study, “Focusing Provider Attention: An Empirical Examination of Incentives and Feedback in Flu Vaccinations,” was conducted by Bradley Staats and Robert Niewoehner III, both of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in partnership with VaxCare, a technology company that partners with clinics to coordinate vaccination logistics. The study looked at 145 clinics in nine different states and tested whether financial incentives or performance feedback might improve vaccination rates.

“We find clinics that got performance rankings grew their flu vaccinations more than all other clinics. Specifically, our experiment led to a 12% increase in flu shots for these clinics,” said Staats, a professor of operations and Sarah Graham Kenan Scholar, faculty director of the Center for the Business of Health and associate dean of MBA programs in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. “We also find that the clinics who received rankings don’t want to come in last – that is, they do whatever they can to avoid the bottom rankings. Because of this, in trying move up, the clinics near last-place end up outperforming their corresponding control clinics by 23 percentage points – a significant margin!”

This research stands to have a very large impact. If even just a portion of the increased vaccination rates go to at-risk groups, this could avert serious health consequences.

“Even further – if most of an increase in flu shots went to seniors, the CDC estimates that this could prevent thousands of hospitalizations,” said Niewoehner, a doctoral candidate in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Our study shows that behavioral interventions like our experiment can improve performance outcomes, even when targeting seemingly immutable trends, like flu vaccination rates. Going forward, we believe our findings hold great promise for improving public health and company operations in general.”

I would like to add a personal note here. Long before the pandemic raised the prospect of defensive vaccinations, I found that ‘flu shots’ was a hot button topic. I get a flu shot every year and I recommend that to everyone I can. In addition, I have an annual post “It’s time to get that flu shot.” Initially, I was amazed at the vitriolic responses from readers. After all, I was just passing along my doctor’s recommendation. So, vaccinations are a very sensitive subject in our culture. For the record, I get a flu shot every year, and I got the Pfizer-Biontec shots back in February and March of this year.

2 Comments

Filed under flu season, flu shot

Why COVID-19 Means You Need a Flu Shot This Year – UCSF

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. There are approximately 4000 posts in here. Without a doubt, one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should, too. In view of the pandemic it is even more important.

As the flu season approaches in the United States, health experts are warning that the addition of another respiratory illness on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could overburden the health care system, strain testing capacity, and increase the risk of catching both diseases at once, according to the University of California San Francisco.

In a bad flu season, which peaks from December to February, 40 million to 50 million Americans may catch the flu, with some 800,000 requiring hospitalization, according to Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

“So the worry is that with the onset of the flu season, you’re going to get peaks of flu and COVID-19 cases at the same time,” he said. “Even with a mild flu season, the convergence with a COVID surge could very rapidly overwhelm our hospital system.”

Unlike COVID-19, however, the flu is a familiar foe, and a safe and effective vaccine is available every year.

4 Comments

Filed under coronavirus, coronavirus risk, COVID-19, flu deaths, flu season, flu shot

Flu vaccine may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease – Study

People who received at least one flu vaccination were 17% less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease over the course of a lifetime, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

person holding a vaccine with gloves

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

First author Albert Amran, a fourth-year medical student at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, presented the findings at the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference July 27-31. The conference was held virtually due to COVID-19. Senior author of the study was Paul E. Schulz, MD, Rick McCord Professor in Neurology and Umphrey Family Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases at UTHealth.

“Because there are no treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, it is crucial that we find ways to prevent it and delay its onset,” Amran said. “About 5.8 million people in the United States have this disease, so even a small reduction in risk can make a dramatic difference. We began our study by looking for ways we could reduce this risk.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under flu season, flu shot, Uncategorized

Flu in early life determines susceptibility to future infections – Study

Early infections of influenza A can help predict how the virus will affect people across different ages in the future and could impact the effectiveness of flu vaccines, says a new study published in eLife.

The findings may help improve estimates of both the age-specific risk of acquiring seasonal influenza infections and vaccine effectiveness in similarly vaccinated populations.

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that occur across the world. It causes approximately 100,000–600,000 hospitalisations and 5,000–27,000 deaths per year in the US alone. There are three types of seasonal influenza viruses in humans: A, B and C, although C is much less common. Influenza A viruses are further classified into subtypes, with the A(H1N1) and A(H3N2) subtypes currently circulating in humans. A(H1N1) is also written as A(H1N1)pdm09 as it caused the 2009 pandemic and replaced the A(H1N1) virus which had circulated before that year.

Leave a comment

Filed under flu season, flu shot, flu virus, preventing the flu

Coronavirus Q and A – Rush Medical

I don’t know about you, but I have been totally freaked out over this new coronavirus. I cancelled my trip to Las Vegas at the end of this month because of it. So, I was most pleased to run across this Q and A from Rush University Medical Center.

An outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has caused worry among people all around the world. While there are no confirmed cases of the novel virus at Rush University Medical Center, Rush is committed to preparing for any possible scenario and answering any questions patients might have concerning the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.

cold comfort cover cute

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So what is this virus? Should Americans be afraid of a possible outbreak? What can we do in terms from prevention?

Here, Michael Lin, MD, MPH, an infectious disease specialist, and Alexander Tomich, DNP, associate vice president of regulatory and clinical effectiveness, discuss the outbreak and what it means for the everyday American. You also can hear their conversation on the Medical Center’s podcast, “The Rush Cast.”

What is coronavirus?

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under coronavirus, epidemic, flu season, flu shot, preventing the flu

Don’t forget the current flu …

With the coronavirus hitting the headlines, let’s keep in mind our own local U.S. situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting high activity of influenza and influenza-like illnesses across the country. In its latest report, the CDC estimates that during this season in the United States, 9.7 million cases of flu have been diagnosed, 32 children and 4,800 adults have died due to influenza.

650x350_flu-shot-2.jpg

* CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

I couldn’t agree more. See my It’s time to get that flu shot post from October.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under flu deaths, flu season, flu shot, flu symptoms, preventing the flu, Uncategorized

4 Tips for staying healthy this winter

Colder temperatures, inclement weather, reductions in the amount of daylight, and the spread of cold and flu viruses can all have a significant impact on your winter well-being, making it more challenging for you to stay safe and healthy.

Here are four important tips and tricks to help you cope with the cold weather, care for your immune system, and stay active until spring arrives, from Western Connecticut Medical Group.

woman blowing snow outdoors

Photo by Darius Krause on Pexels.com

Tip 1: Prepare in Advance

A little prevention in the fall can help everyone — and especially older adults — avoid serious wintertime accidents. Precautions include preventing falls by installing handrails and fixing uneven or steep stairs before the weather turns cold and icy.

Fall is also a great time to work on increasing your flexibility. Increasing your flexibility decreases your risk of falling. And if you do fall, flexibility helps to decrease the severity of the injury. Stretching several times a week can improve your flexibility. Traditional stretching, yoga, tai chi, or Pilates are all great ways to stay flexible. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, cold weather exercising, flu season, flu shot, successful aging

It’s time to get that flu shot

It’s time to get that flu shot.

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. There are approximately 4000 posts in here. I think one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should, too.

flu-burden-cases.png

While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. flu-burden-cases.png

The following is excerpted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

How do flu vaccines work? Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under CDC, flu deaths, flu season, flu shot, preventing the flu

Flu prevention tips

I truly believe that old saw “an ounce of prevention ….” So, here are some super positive ideas about protecting yourself from flu this season. Good luck!

img.jpeg

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, flu season, flu shot, preventing the flu, Uncategorized

Regular flu shots may save heart failure patients’ lives – Study

I get a flu shot every year and recommend it for everyone, particularly seniors. I started doing it in the ’90’s when I was teaching journalism. One of my students wrote them up and a senior citizen told her than since getting flu shots she not only hadn’t got the flu, but she didn’t even catch colds any more. Now, it turns out that the shots are also a benefit for heart failure patients.

close up of white syringe

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Getting an annual flu shot can save heart failure patients’ lives, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under flu deaths, flu season, flu shot, preventing the flu

Eat These Foods To Prevent The Flu

I like this post. Consider it another arrow in your quiver against the flu this season. I wrote recently about getting my flu shot and recommended that you do the same. Here are some more good ideas to help get you through the coming five or so months.

Tony

Let's Discuss Nutrition

cold comfort cover cute

Flu season is almost here and often a flu shot and taking vitamin C isn’t enough. Aside from mitigating stress and getting enough sleep, it’s important to pay attention to nutrition. Here’s what you should be eating for flu prevention:

basket of mushrooms

Hello mushrooms! These fungi contain glucans, a polysaccharide that enhances natural killer cells in the body. In order to optimize the immune-boosting benefits of mushrooms, eat a variety such as shiitake, white button, and maitake.

onion and garlic on white surface

No more crying. Garlic, onions, shallots, and chives have been shown to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Onions have properties that increase white blood cell counts needed to fight off pathogens. Why not saute mushrooms and onions for a double whammy of these immune fighting foods?

sliced kiwi fruits

A cup of kiwi blows citrus out of the water, with 273% of your daily value of…

View original post 151 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under flu season, flu shot, preventing the flu

Flu shot time

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. I have produced a total of more than 3700 posts in that period. I think one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should too.

While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. flu-burden-cases.png

The following is excerpted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under CDC, flu deaths, flu season, flu shot

Two days – no exercise – Doctor’s orders

WHAT MADNESS IS THIS??? Sentenced to the sedentary penitentiary? By a medical man?

I am still the guy who wakes up in the morning looking forward to hopping on the bike and cranking up 10+ miles before breakfast. A flashback is in order.

Two weeks ago I had a big medical week. My annual physical and flu shot were due and I was having trouble chewing on one of my wisdom teeth. So, I had a doctor’s appointment and a dentist appointment in the same week. My normally robust good health keeps me out of doctors’ offices most weeks of the year.

wisdom-teeth-1.jpg

So, I fasted in the morning, saw the doctor, had my blood drawn and left the hospital ravenous for food. So much for the doctor’s visit. My doctor was kind enough email me my blood work results that evening.

Component Results

Component Your Value Standard Range
CHOLESTEROL 198 mg/dL
Guideline: < 170 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.)
TRIGLYCERIDE 47 mg/dL
Guideline: < 100 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 499 mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)
HDL CHOLESTEROL 80 mg/dL
Guideline: > 50 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.)
LDL CHOL (CALC) 109 mg/dL
Guideline: < 100 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 189mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)
Non-HDL Cholesterol 118 mg/dL
Guideline: < 120 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 219 mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)

Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under dental problems, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise duration, wisdom teeth

Flu season is here … getting a shot?

Flu season is here.

Of all the subjects I write about the flu shot seems to be one of the most incendiary. Forget politics, President Trump and Hollywood sex perverts, flu shots really get under peoples’ skin. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. Anyway, I will be turning 78 in January and I get a flu shot every year. I started around 20 years ago when I was teaching journalism and one of my students wrote a piece on flu shots. She interviewed a senior lady who said that she had been getting flu shots for years and, not only had she not gotten the flu, she hadn’t even had a cold since she started. That was enough for me. I hope you get one, too.

Flu-Season.jpg

The contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs can cause mild to severe illness and at times may lead to death. People of every age — including people in good health — are at risk for flu.

Approximately 970,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2014, and more than 40 million were affected by flu-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although a majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, even healthy young children and younger adults can have severe disease or even die from influenza. Nearly 100 deaths from influenza among children are reported each year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under flu season, flu shot, flu symptoms, preventing the flu

Frequently asked questions about colds and the flu – Harvard

Since we are in/entering cold/flu season, I thought this was some timely information from Harvard HealthBeat. I hope you make it through the entire season without needing any of the tips.

 

is-it-a-cold-or-the-flu-infographic.png

Here are the answers to six commonly asked questions about colds and the flu.

Q. When should I stay home from work or keep my child home from school?

A. Use your judgment to determine when you are feeling too sick to go to work or when your child is feeling too sick to go to school. It is important to stay home when you are most contagious. For colds, you are contagious the entire time you have symptoms, but you are most contagious right after you contract the viral infection, before you even have symptoms. For the flu, adults are most infectious from the day before symptoms start until about the fifth day of symptoms.

Q. When should I see my doctor?

A. If you experience any of the common flu symptoms or if your symptoms do not go away as quickly as you would expect, see your doctor.

Q. How can I avoid passing my cold or flu on to my family?

A. There are many steps you can take to try to avoid spreading germs to the people around you. Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, either with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Throw used tissues away immediately, ideally into a toilet where they can be flushed away without anyone else touching them. Wash your hands often, especially after you sneeze, cough, or touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your distance from others—don’t kiss, hug, or stand so close to someone that saliva might get on them when you talk. Make sure someone is disinfecting household surfaces and items frequently, including children’s toys.

Q. Why do colds and the flu increase in the winter?

A. Cold weather itself does not cause colds, but people are more likely to stay indoors and spread cold germs to one another when it’s cold outside. There is emerging evidence that influenza spreads most efficiently at low temperatures and in low humidity, which may explain why cases of the flu increase so much in the winter.

Q. Is there any truth to the old saying “Feed a cold; starve a fever”?

A. No. When you have a cold or the flu, you should be sure to eat healthful foods and drink plenty of fluids, but there is no need to eat more or less than usual.

Q. Is it okay to get a flu shot when I have a cold?

A. Yes, you can get vaccinated when you have a cold as long as you are not feeling very sick and do not have a fever.

To learn more about colds, flus and related illnesses as well as the best ways to prevent them, you can order the Harvard Medical School Guide: Cold and Flu.

Leave a comment

Filed under cold season, cold symptoms, cold weather, common cold, flu season, flu shot, flu symptoms, preventing the flu