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Dr Russ Blog - The Flu Shot - Yet Another Reason to Get It
The Flu Shot - Yet Another Reason to Get It
Created on 11/8/2013

Flu season is here - no cause for celebration, but it's a fact.

You may not be thinking about it much because the flu really hasn't hit yet in a significant way - but remember that flu season can run all the way into early May.

You know that the flu can be one very nasty experience, even a very dangerous one in those predisposed by chronic illness. And you know that the flu shot / vaccine can help prevent you from getting the flu (by the way, it's not perfect - the flu shot works as a preventive about 60% of the time, but that's still pretty good).

What you may not be aware of is that getting the flu appears to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in the period around the illness. This notion was reinforced in a recently published article in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Weird, right? Why would a viral upper respiratory tract infection increase the risk for heart disease and stroke?

Experts think it has to do with inflammation - when you get the flu the immune response is pretty aggressive, and that inflammatory reaction occurs throughout the body, not just in one locale. In theory, this could result in plaque being loosened from the walls of blood vessels or even blood vessels becoming overloaded with fluid. 

Studies, like the recently published JAMA piece, suggest that getting vaccinated against the flu may not only help protect against the flu but perhaps also add an extra layer of protection against heart disease and stroke, especially in those with a recent history of cardiovascular illness.

Bottom line - speak with your doctor about getting the annual flu vaccine. If your doctor says you should get it, dont wait - getting vaccinated against the flu is something to do sooner rather than later.

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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