Flu vaccine not as effective for heart patients

Obviously if you have heart disease, or cardiac problems, then the focus is solely on keeping the heart healthy. However, a report presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology by Dr Orly Vardeny, of the University of Wisconsin seems to imply that “heart failure goes beyond the heart, that there are other systems challenged by the condition.” This arose from his study which indicated heart failure patients may not have as strong an immune response to flu vaccine as healthy patients. This is not the time of year to be thinking of flu vaccines, but I am a great believer in looking ahead and being prepared. The report showed that patients with heart failure had a significantly lower antibody response to one of the three influenza virus strains found in the flu vaccine used for the study, compared with healthy patients. It has been previously established that heart failure patients are at an increased risk for developing influenza, which is why yearly vaccination is recommended for them, but it was reported by Dr. Vardeny that there are still high numbers of hospitalisations and deaths from influenza in heart failure patients, They do not yet know why the impaired response happens but believe it may be due to increased neurohormone levels, such as norepinephrine and angiotensin II. Further study is being done on the specific effects of norepinephrine or beta-adrenergic mechanisms in response to vaccines, but they do not suggest that patients with heart failure should stop getting immunised just yet.

The answer might lie in more preventive measures such as boosting the immune system through natural means by methods such as meditation, exercise and supplements such as additional vitamin C and immune boosters like ginseng and Echinacea. Belt and braces has always been good advice if you are vulnerable to infections and if in any doubt, please talk to your doctor about how a flu vaccine might affect you.

Probiotics strengthen immune system

Probiotics are living microorganisms, usually lactic acid bacteria, that help maintain the natural balance of the intestines especially after a period of taking antibiotics which can seriously disrupt that balance. Now it appears they can also help to strengthen the immune system and reduce the effect of allergies. A quick look in the chiller cabinet in the supermarket will show you that ‘probiotics’ are listed on the labels of products like drinks and yoghurts, though as these often contain sugar it might be better to take a plain acidopholus supplement or add in foods that contain probiotics such as plain, live, yoghurt and aged cheeses.