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5 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Flu can have dangerous effect on older adults

Flu can have dangerous effect on older adults

Even months after recovering from the flu, older people remain at increased risk for a heart attack, stroke or disability, a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases warns. "We all know about the illness influenza causes -- obviously fever and making you feel poorly, aches and pains -- and that is because it sets up a systemic inflammatory response," said Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

"Not as well known: In the two weeks to a month after you recover from influenza, you have a three to five times increased risk of having a heart attack," Schaffner said in a university news release. "You have a two to three times increased risk of having a stroke.

"Nobody wants a heart attack or a stroke, so by preventing flu, you prevent this inflammatory response and you can help prevent those strokes and heart attacks," Schaffner said.

Seniors account for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations caused by influenza and more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths, he said, so it's especially important for seniors to get a flu shot.

"We have a couple of vaccines now that are particularly designed and licensed for use in older adults, and that is because they produce an enhanced immune response in this population," Schaffner said.

Flu can have a domino effect in seniors.

"Influenza can take a person who is functional in society and make them very sick, but after they recover they may never get back to that same level of function that they had before," Schaffner said.

"Flu can be like that first domino falling and beginning to push patients down the disability scale," he said.

It starts very simply. A virus, just one, latches on to one of your cells and fools that cell into making lots more. Lots, lots more, like a million new viruses. This animation shows you how viruses trick healthy cells to join the dark side.

David Bolinsky and his team at XVIVO designed this animation for a research company called Zirus (and we thank Zirus for letting us play with their pictures). Bolinsky says what you see in the video actually happens much, much faster in real life — in a fraction of a fraction of a second. So this is a very slow motion version of cellular activity.

And for those of you who were wondering, yes, the designers did add color. Proteins, DNA, organelles, and the teeny things inside a human cell are so small, and the insides of cells are so dark, that for all practical purposes, they are colorless.

So the copying molecule isn't really pink. But once you decide to colorize, pink is just as accurate as maroon or yellow.

In our video we ask, if a flu virus inside your body can multiply by the millions within seconds, why don't we topple over and die quickly?

Here's a better, longer answer than the one in the video. First, some new viruses get caught in mucus and other fluids inside your body and are destroyed. Other viruses get expelled in coughs and sneezes. Second, lots of those new viruses are lemons. They don't work that well. Some don't have the right "keys" to invade healthy cells so they can't spread the infection. And third, as the animation shows, your immune system is busy attacking the viruses whenever and wherever possible.

That is why most of the time, after a struggle (when you get a fever and need to lie down), your immune system rebounds, and, in time, so do you.

    HealthDay 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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