Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems.
(BPT) - “I’m not the same person. The person before just kind of took life for granted. And now I cherish every moment I have because I know it can be taken away very quickly.”
Lisa Pellerin, a mother and a nurse, shared these words as she recounted an experience so devastating to her health that it changed her entire perspective on life. It wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a heart attack.
It was the flu.
Surprisingly, the flu is a source of worry for only 8 percent of adults 50 years of age and older, according to a recent survey. And, even if they were to get the flu, the majority (80 percent) only saw themselves as being at average or below average risk for flu-related complications. For some, these misperceptions could be dangerous.
Adults 50 years of age and older are more likely than younger age groups to have a chronic illness, such as asthma or other lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. Flu can exacerbate symptoms of these conditions and lead to serious complications, like pneumonia – or sometimes even death.
Flu and chronic health conditions
According to the CDC, about 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness. Lisa is among this group, living with both asthma and diabetes. All it took was one day for the flu to land her in the hospital. “I just kept getting worse. I was in the hospital for three weeks. Everyone thought I was going to die,” she said. Lisa continues to struggle with shortness of breath and a persistent cough, but she’s grateful to be alive.
After receiving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, Jim Piette still enjoyed fishing, hunting and woodworking – until he got the flu. “Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7,” he said. “I can’t do much without running out of air.” After a year and a half, Jim still hasn’t been able to resume all his usual activities.
Take the precaution: Get the shot
Vaccination is the best way to help protect people, including older adults, from the flu and help reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death. That’s why the American Lung Association created the MyShot campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur. The campaign helps educate adults 50 years of age and older about the potential dangers of flu and the critical importance of getting a flu shot every year.
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination continues to be offered throughout flu season.
For adults, it’s important to know that there are multiple options depending on your age and whether you have one or more chronic health conditions. A doctor can advise which option may be right for each individual, taking into consideration age and other factors such as chronic health conditions.
It’s not about one person – it’s about everyone in your life
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems. JoJo O’Neal’s bout with the flu turned into a family issue, infecting not only JoJo, but her sister who has COPD, and her niece. “I started to realize my health decisions can impact others,” she said. Now, she does everything she can to help protect herself and others from the flu, which always includes getting her annual flu vaccination.
If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, go to GetMyShot.org to learn more and speak with your healthcare provider about flu vaccine options that may be right for you.
One common condition to be aware of is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. The first step toward managing AFib and preventing serious health complications is gaining knowledge about the condition. Increase your awareness with these facts.
How to Reduce Health Risks by Understanding AFib
(Family Features) Oftentimes, seeking to improve your health starts at your core – your heart. One common condition to be aware of is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Currently impacting up to 6.1 million Americans, AFib is projected to double by 2030, according to the American Heart Association. One in three individuals is at risk for developing AFib over the course of his or her lifetime, and the likelihood of developing the condition increases by almost 40 percent after the age of 55.
The average person living with AFib has a five-fold increase of experiencing a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat. However, proper diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the chances of associated heart health complications, including stroke.
The first step toward managing AFib and preventing serious health complications is gaining knowledge about the condition. The experts at the American Heart Association are working to elevate awareness with these facts:
Symptoms and signs
“Atrial fibrillation can be challenging to diagnose,” said Dr. Georgeanne Freeman, a board-certified family medicine doctor and American Heart Association volunteer expert. “If you are feeling out of the ordinary, whether it's a racing pulse or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath and fatigue, it’s time to speak with your doctor to learn your risk for AFib and lower your chance for stroke.”
Other common symptoms include dizziness, weakness, faintness or confusion; fatigue when exercising; sweating and chest pain or pressure.
People of African, Asian or Hispanic ancestry are typically less likely to suffer from AFib. However, research suggests that those with African or Hispanic ancestry living with AFib have a higher risk of death when the condition is combined with another factor such as heart failure or high blood pressure.
To learn more and to access AFib tools and resources, visit heart.org/AFib.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
Could you have a heart attack? Reduce your odds through these tips.
(BPT) - Many Americans consider themselves well-informed and attentive when it comes to their health.
That’s why it's so puzzling that many remain unfazed by the threat of heart disease.
That was among the findings of the MDVIP Heart Attack IQ Survey, a national study showing Americans are more concerned about cancer than a heart attack — even though cardiovascular disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, heart disease is the underlying cause of one in three U.S. deaths. Many Americans don’t take it seriously because they believe most heart problems can be treated with medication or surgery, while others simply procrastinate when it comes to adopting healthier behaviors that help prevent heart disease.
As a result, many are surprised when faced with a life-threatening heart attack, which can happen to anyone at any age. While the average age for a first attack is 66 for men and 70 for women, the risk increases significantly as soon as men reach 45 and women reach 55.
“Despite the statistics, people assume a heart attack is going to happen to somebody else, but not to them,” said MDVIP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrea Klemes. “Heart disease can be dangerously silent, which is why it’s important to know your risk factors and the steps you can take to minimize them.”
Gloom and doom aside, awareness of the issue is the first step, and there is much you can do to prevent heart disease. Some 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable.
Consider these suggestions for reducing your risk of heart attack:
* Partner with your primary. Your primary care doctor is your first line of defense in helping prevent heart disease. Make sure you partner with a physician who has the time to identify and discuss your risk in detail, who will work on a plan to control your risk factors and who can provide ongoing support to keep you motivated and accountable. Physicians like those in the MDVIP network maintain smaller practices so that they can devote more time to each patient and provide the coaching needed to keep them on track.
* Stay up to date on screenings. When’s the last time you had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked? But don’t stop at the basics. Most heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. You also want to get a read on whether you have inflammation in your arteries or insulin resistance, both of which raise your heart disease risk. You can only act on what you know, and knowing your numbers is key to early detection.
* Make heart-healthy changes. Creating and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar in check and lower your risk for heart disease. So don’t skip your exercise, weight management or smoking cessation programs. Just make sure you consult with your doctor before changing your diet or beginning a new exercise program.
* Sleep more, stress less. While often overlooked, insufficient sleep and excessive stress can put strain on your heart over time. Both can also influence your eating habits, mood and overall health. Most adults need seven to nine hours per night; if you’re getting that and still feel tired, consider asking your doctor for a sleep apnea test. Also, try starting a regular practice — whether it’s a yoga class, deep breathing or a daily walk outside — to better manage stress.
Take the Heart Attack IQ quiz and learn more about finding a preventive physician by visiting www.mdvip.com/HeartAttackIQ.
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