Two new studies reveal that flu shots and pneumonia vaccines are helpful in more than one way. Both these vaccines can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older age. The abstracts of these studies were presented at the international conference of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Dr. Richard Isaacson is a certified neurologist and founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic NY-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center. Although he wasn’t a part of these studies he has commented on them saying that these two studies are bringing promising facts that may help to control the disease in advance.
These studies highlight that annual flu shots especially initiated from a very early age are extremely helpful in controlling viral infections that may affect immunity. It also has an effect on Alzheimer’s and the cognitive decline that may show up with age.
On the other side, medical experts are saying that in-depth analysis can reveal the exact information on how these vaccines reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
To this day, there is no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease. All that medical experts can do is to guide on how to lower its risk. Before these studies, the doctors have emphasized improving lifestyle i.e. diet, activity level, sleep regulation, etc that may affect a person’s individual risk for the disease. In addition to this, getting regular vaccination for flu and pneumonia can also add up to this reduced risk, if these studies are true.
Maria Carrillo is the chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. According to her, if these studies are true, this is an important factor to consider for general disease management.
She also emphasized on conducting detailed experiments to understand how these two are connected. Right now there is no information on how these vaccines reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
They could play a direct role in disease prevention. Or they can play a ‘protective role’ such as lowering all the related factors that cause a cognitive decline such as sugar level, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. But whatever the case is, getting vaccinations for flu and pneumonia looks like a piece of good advice. In any way, they will protect the body from nasty infections.
The first study, in this case, was presented by Albert Amran who is a medical student at McGovern Medical School, Houston. This study analyzed health records from the database of nearly 9000 people till the age of 60.
The research team found a surprising factor that flu shots reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 17%. Plus those who received these flu shots repeatedly twice or more times every year experienced a 13% additional reduction in the risk. This protection seems highest in people who received their first flu shot at a relatively early age.
Second study was based on the efficacy of the pneumonia vaccine alone against Alzheimer’s disease. The risk was evaluated for pneumonia vaccine along with flu vaccine and without it.
The team studied nearly 5000 old-age people from the Cardiovascular Health Study, another research funded by the government to estimate the risks for heart diseases.
Those who received the pneumonia vaccine were 25% to 30% lesser risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there were a number of additional factors that were also involved like race, education, smoking habits, alcoholism, sex, genetic factors etc.
These two studies look like a fresh start towards evaluating common vaccine’s efficacy against common diseases.