Getting the flu can be a nasty experience. Fever, nausea, and chills can keep you bedridden for days. Not to mention the muscle aches and pains, or tiredness. Avoiding these symptoms altogether would obviously be the best solution. Well, here’s even more evidence why you want to try to avoid getting the flu if at all possible.
A new study shows that the flu virus can worsen heart disease. Deaths from heart attacks and heart disease are more common during flu season.
How much more?
Dr. Mohammed Madjid of the University of Texas, who conducted the study, says the flu could be contributing to 90,000 extra deaths a year in the U.S.
Dr. Madjid and colleagues studied the autopsy reports of patients in St. Petersburg, Russia who died of heart disease between 1993 and 2000. They chose this particular group for the study because most had not had a flu vaccine.
According to the reports 11,892 people died from heart attacks and 23,000 died from chronic heart disease. And deaths increased by a third during flu epidemic weeks.
The researchers said in the European Heart Journal that these findings call for more efforts to get people with heart disease to get their flu shot.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends flu shots for people over the age of 50.
The CDC says that the vaccine prevents flu in 70 to 90% of people under the age of 65. In elderly persons the flu shot is 30 to 70% effective in preventing hospitalization. And for those in nursing homes, the flu shot is 80% effective in preventing deaths.
What is the flu shot?
The flu shot contains three viruses. Viruses for the flu shot are grown in eggs.
Health authorities must guess which flu strain is likely to strike, and then choose the three viruses for the flu shot accordingly.
These viruses are grown in a lab and then killed. The dead viruses are then made into a flu shot which is injected into your arm.
At this point your immune system should respond by attacking the viruses. Then, if you are exposed to one of these viruses your immune system already has antibodies that it can use to destroy it. Provided, that is, if it is the same virus that was in the flu shot to begin with!
Side effects that can occur are soreness in the arm, fever, aches, or allergic reaction. Allergic reactions usually happen to someone who is already sensitive to eggs.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the flu shot.