Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Dementia describes a syndrome linked to an ongoing decline of brain functioning. There are many different types of this syndrome, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common diagnosis. Fortunately, getting a certain vaccine could lower your risk of this dementia type.

According to an early online version of a study that will be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in August, those who had a flu jab were 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from UTHealth Houston found that people who had at least one jab had a lower risk of the condition compared to their non-vaccinated counterparts.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the UK, the NHS shares.

The researchers compared the risk of this dementia type in vaccinated and non-vaccinated participants.

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Considering a large nationwide sample of US adults, the participants were aged 65 years and older.

Author Avram S. Bukhbinder said: “We found that flu vaccination in older adults reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

“The strength of this protective effect increased with the number of years that a person received an annual flu vaccine.

“In other words, the rate of developing Alzheimer’s was lowest among those who consistently received the flu vaccine every year.

“Future research should assess whether flu vaccination is also associated with the rate of symptom progression in patients who already have Alzheimer’s dementia.”

Previous research has also identified a potential link between flu jabs and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, this new study looked at a much larger sample, consisting of 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 non-vaccinated patients.

During four year follow-up check-ups, about 5.1 percent of flu-vaccinated patients developed Alzheimer’s disease.

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In comparison, 8.5 percent of non-vaccinated patients had developed dementia.

These findings underline the strong protective effect of the flu vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bukhbinder.

However, the underlying mechanisms behind this process are not fully clear.

Senior author Paul. E. Schulz said: “Since there is evidence that several vaccines may protect from Alzheimer’s disease, we are thinking that it isn’t a specific effect of the flu vaccine.

“Instead, we believe that the immune system is complex, and some alterations, such as pneumonia, may activate it in a way that makes Alzheimer’s disease worse.

“But other things that activate the immune system may do so in a different way – one that protects from Alzheimer’s disease.

“Clearly, we have more to learn about how the immune system worsens or improves outcomes in this disease.”

The researchers also noted that it might be worth looking into whether a similar link exists between the Covid jab and dementia in future.

The findings will be fully available in the August 2 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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