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Get a flu shot if you want to bring down your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Get a flu shot if you want to bring down your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

According to researchers, people who received at least one flu vaccination were 17 per cent less likely to get Alzheimer's disease over the course of a lifetime.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Published : July 29, 2020 4:47 PM IST

Alzheimer's disease is a kind of dementia that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. It is a progressive disorder characterised by a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills. Early signs may be short term memory loss. Gradually, a patient experiences severe memory impairment and lose the ability to perform everyday tasks. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from severe loss of brain function such as dehydration, malnutrition or infection result in death. There is no cure for this disease. But some medications may temporarily help deal with symptoms or slow the rate of decline. Because there are no treatments for Alzheimer's disease, it is crucial that we find ways to prevent it and delay its onset. Even a small reduction in risk can make a huge difference.

Now, according to researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Centre in the US, people who received at least one flu vaccination were 17 per cent less likely to get Alzheimer's disease over the course of a lifetime.

Frequent vaccination reduces risk even more

The aim of the researchers was to pinpoint potential factors that could reduce Alzheimer's disease risk. The role was to sort through enormous amounts of de-identified patient data in the Cerner Health Facts database to see whether there are drugs that could be repurposed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Once the team identified the flu vaccine as a candidate, they used machine learning to analyse more than 310,000 health records to study the relationship between flu vaccination and Alzheimer's disease. The study found that more frequent flu vaccination and receiving a vaccination at younger ages were associated with even greater decreases in risk.

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Flu shot helps by boosting up immune response

Researchers say that one of their theories of how the flu vaccine may work is that some of the proteins in the flu virus may train the body's immune response to better protect against Alzheimer's disease. Providing people with a flu vaccine may be a safe way to introduce those proteins that could help prepare the body to fight off the disease.

However, researchers noted that additional studies in large clinical trials are needed to explore whether the flu shot could serve as a valid public health strategy in the fight against this disease. More research is needed to investigate why and how the flu vaccine works in the body to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, they say. The study was presented at the 2020 Alzheimer's Association International Conference on July 27-31. The conference was held virtually due to COVID-19.

What you can do to bring down your risk of Alzheimer's disease

If this condition runs in your family, there may be nothing you can do about it. But you can delay the onset by changing the way you live. You can significantly bring down your risk of this condition by living a healthy and stress-free life. Eat nutritious foods and be physically active. You also need to take time out from your daily life and rejuvenate. Stress and anxiety can trigger this condition. So, you need to relax and chill.

(With inputs from IANS)