Heart attack, we need to focus on prevention. And in the era of Covid-19, vaccination for seasonal flu becomes fundamental
Use your heart. To beat. The appeal is launched by the World Heart Federation on the occasion of World Heart Day, which is celebrated on 29 September. The reminder is aimed at paying more attention to one's heart, especially in terms of prevention and without being afraid to go to the hospital when symptoms arise that can suggest a heart attack, such as chest pain that rises towards the throat and arms. Time, in fact, is essential for the prognosis of heart attack. But it is also necessary to focus on prevention and never as this year, in the era of Covid-19, vaccination for seasonal flu appears fundamental. To say it is an Italian research.
The risks for heart sufferers
Heart patients are more exposed to the development of severe forms of Covid-19 infection and therefore more vulnerable. If we add to this the fear of encountering problems that should be addressed by the doctor but which may be underestimated for fear of going to the hospital, then there is a risk of really serious damage to the heart.
A study by the Monzino Cardiology Center shows that, in the period of the lockdown, the Italian regions with a higher rate of coverage of the flu vaccination in the population of over 65s showed fewer infections, fewer patients hospitalized with symptoms, as well as fewer ICU patients and fewer deaths from Covid-19.
The data, just published in Vaccines, an international journal of the "Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute" group, support the hypothesis that the flu vaccination can help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Although further ad hoc studies are needed to confirm the hypothesis, the study provides an additional scientific basis for the recommendations of all health authorities, starting with the World Health Organization, which are urging the population to undergo , the flu shot.
"The world of cardiology was, like the others, devastated by the wave of Covid-19 and the lack of vaccines and drugs capable of stemming it has prompted us to look for alternatives to respond to the attack of the pandemic – explains Damiano Baldassare, coordinator of the study, Head of the Unit for the Study of Morphology and Arterial Function of Monzino, and Associate Professor of the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine of the University of Milan – In view of an imminent second viral wave we have focused on hypothesis, advanced by several scientists, about the role of the flu vaccine in reducing the spread of COVID-19 ”.
Two different viruses, which are transmitted in the same way
The flu virus and Sars-CoV-2 have similar transmission routes, and they also have some symptoms in common. But they are very different in terms of severity and mortality in case of infection, and in terms of the age groups affected. Influenza affects mainly children and adolescents, while Covid-19 manifests itself more seriously mainly in the elderly.
A possible explanation could be that young people have a more reactive immune system and strengthened by exposure to viral agents or antigens contained in many pediatric vaccines (anti measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, rubella, hepatitis B, papilloma virus …). Vaccines can trigger positive “non-specific” immune response mechanisms, improving the responsiveness of the immune system as a whole.
"In our study – explains Mauro Amato, researcher at the Monzino Cardiology Center and first author of the article – we compared, region by region, the vaccination coverage rates in over 65s with the number of infections and other 3 indices of clinical severity of the disease : the number of hospitalizations for Covid-19, the number of subjects admitted to intensive care and the number of subjects who died from the infection. All the analyzes confirmed that the spread rates and the severity of the Sars-CoV-2 virus are inversely proportional to the flu vaccination rate: fewer vaccines, more Covid-19 ”.
"We estimated – concludes Amato – that a 1% increase in vaccination coverage in over 65s, which is equivalent to approximately 140,000 doses nationwide, could have avoided 78,560 infections, 2,512 hospitalizations, 353 hospitalizations in intensive care units and 1,989 deaths from COVID -19. It would therefore be important to encourage as much as possible any activity that could lead to an increase in vaccination coverage, especially among the over 65s ”.