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Flu vaccine for a healthy heart? Yes, it’s true!

A total of 2,24,311 beneficiaries received Covid vaccines in 553 sessions of vaccination till Sunday across the country. ©Shutterstock

A new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation showed that flu vaccination can reduce the risk of premature death caused by cardiovascular diseases by 18 per cent.

Written by Ajay Pal Singh |Updated : January 14, 2019 9:19 PM IST

Have you ever thought of your annual flu shot as a life saver? Was it ever anything more than a vaccine that can protect you from a seemingly simple cough and cold? Well then, it's time for you to brush up your health IQ. According to a new research published in the American Heart Association s (AHA) journal Circulation, annual flu shot can reduce the risk of premature death in those who have recently experienced heart failure by up to 18 per.

Moreover, when a patient suffers from a heart problem, his immunity levels go down and he becomes more susceptible to infection. We started using flu vaccine in patients with poor heart function, low immunity and high susceptibility to infections and we noted a significant improvement, says Dr. Yugal Mishra, Head, Cardiac Sciences and Chief, Cardiovascular Surgery, Manipal Hospitals. Researchers recommend that you should take your flu shot in September to October, instead of November and December, the flu season, if you want more effective protection. Apart from this, to get flu vaccination yield positive outcome, you need to be consistent with your annual flu vaccination. Findings of the study revealed that occasional annual flu shots provided lesser protection from any cause of death or death from a heart stroke or other cardiovascular disease.

Flu can cause blood clot formation inside your body which can lead to heart attack, which in turn, can lead to cardiac failure. So, it is no wonder that flu vaccination has been recommended as a standard treatment for heart failure.

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WHAT EXACTLY IS A HEART FAILURE?

Heart failure is a condition in which your cardiac muscles become weak and their capacity to pump blood depletes, especially during a stressful activity. The inability to of your heart to circulate blood efficiently may result in fluid build up in your lungs and other parts of the body too, leading to congestion, shortness of breath, tiredness, etc. In acute cases, this condition can become life threatening too. However, heart failure is a chronic condition, which, though not curable, can be managed with lifestyle modifications.

HOW CAN YOU HAVE A HEALTHY HEART

The cornerstone of managing your heart health is keeping your cholesterol levels in check. There are two types of cholesterol: Good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). "Ideally, the value of total cholesterol in an individual should be 200 mg/dL," says Dr. Mishra. "So it is imperative to cut down on the cholesterol levels if a person is experiencing heart problems," he adds. But unfortunately, people suffering from high cholesterol levels do not know how to manage the condition. Here are some foods, which, if included in your diet will help you maintain the ideal cholesterol levels.

Oats:

[caption id="attachment_640125" align="alignnone" width="675"]oats Daily intake of 5 to 10 grams of oats can keep your cholesterol levels in check. Shutterstock[/caption]

Oats carry soluble fibre which can help you to reduce your bad cholesterol levels that form in your arteries. Experts suggest daily intake of 5 to 10 grams of such soluble fibres can help in preventing your arteries from the damage it may suffer from bad cholesterol.

Nuts:

[caption id="attachment_640165" align="alignnone" width="655"]nuts Two table spoons of nut butter will keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. Shutterstock[/caption]

Walnuts, almonds and pistachios offer unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E that help you keep your cholesterol levels in check. Various doctors suggest that two tablespoons of nut butter can help you avoid cardiovascular ailments.

Green tea:

[caption id="attachment_634597" align="alignnone" width="655"]Green Tea 5 cups of green tea per day reduces risk of heart stroke by 26 per cent. Shutterstock[/caption]

A study published in the Jama journal revealed that drinking over 5 cups of green tea every day reduces your risk of getting a heart stroke by 26 per cent as compared to those who hardly take a sip. Green tea gets its heart protecting properties from its catechins, whose antioxidant properties prevent the formation of cholesterol in your body.

Beans and Legumes:

[caption id="attachment_602126" align="alignnone" width="655"] Daily consumption of beans can show positive results within six weeks on an average. Shutterstock[/caption]

A group of 26 studies showed that daily consumption of beans or legumes can help to curb down your cholesterol by 5 per cent within six weeks on an average. Food items such as beans and oats come with soluble fibre that keeps away cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Dark chocolates:

[caption id="attachment_602258" align="alignnone" width="655"]Dark chocolate Drink a cocoa drink twice a month to enhance your cardiovascular health. Shutterstock[/caption]

Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than sugar and it helps in surging the good cholesterol levels in your body as well as keeping the bad cholesterol levels in check. According to general wisdom in the field, if you drink a cocoa drink two times in a month, your cardiovascular health will improve.

Kale:

[caption id="attachment_640128" align="alignnone" width="655"]kale Kale helps the liver to burn fat. Shutterstock[/caption]

According to nutritionists, including kale in your diet will yield positive results for your heart. Edible items like kale, mustard greens, broccoli and cabbage help to bind to bile acid. This physiological process facilitates fat burning by the liver which, in turn, brings down your cholesterol levels. Steam your green veggies to get the most benefit out of it.

Avocado:

[caption id="attachment_631841" align="alignnone" width="655"]Avocados It helps in reducing your cholesterol levels by as much as 18 points. Shutterstock[/caption]

If you re looking to keep your cholesterol levels in check then, avocado is what you need. According to an analysis of various studies published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, avocados, being high in fibre and monounsaturated fat, bring down your cholesterol level by as much as 18 points. You can use this power food in your sandwich and burrito.

Apple:

[caption id="attachment_635494" align="alignnone" width="655"]Apple Apple's antioxidants keeps your cholesterol levels in check. Shutterstock[/caption]

Apple is rich in pectin, a fibre that is known to curb your bad cholesterol levels. Also, the presence of antioxidants like polyphenols prevents cholesterol from oxidizing that can make your arteries inflamed and clogged.

Safflower oil:

[caption id="attachment_640168" align="alignnone" width="655"]Safflower-Oil Select Safflower oil instead of olive oil to bring down your cholesterol levels. Shutterstock[/caption]

Safflower oil provides compounds to your body that blocks the cholesterol levels by 14 per cent. It can be more effective in bringing down the cholesterol levels in your body as compared to olive oil, a research published in the Journal of Lipid Research cited.

Fatty fish:

[caption id="attachment_640160" align="alignnone" width="655"]Salmon Including sea food in your diet will prevent cholesterol from causing damage to your arteries. Shutterstock[/caption]

Your heart will thank you if you have fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna every week. These

seafoods contain omega-3 fatty acids that help in preventing your cholesterol to become hard or thick and pose problems to your arteries.

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