ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the old saying goes.
So how much is two ounces of prevention worth?
answer could lie in a recent study by Researchers at the University
of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Those researchers found
that in mice, the vaccine for pneumonia helped reduce atherosclerosis,
the buildup of fatty deposits that can lead to heart attacks and
that may help reduce heart problems is good new for truckers. While
there are no scientific studies on how common heart problems are
in truckers, John Siebert, project manager at the OOIDA Foundation,
has been collecting information on the cause of truckers’ deaths.
all the reported deaths of members, heart attacks are by far the
most numerous listed,” Siebert said. Of the truckers included in
Siebert’s informal survey, 37 percent died as a result of heart
Jean Ellis, vice president of member services in the Boston headquarters
of Visiting Nurses Association, said those touting the study as
a way to cut that number may be jumping the gun just a little. Although
the study does offer some additional hope to those who suffer cardiovascular
illnesses, Ellis warned that the study was not definitive evidence
that the vaccine helps prevent atherosclerosis.
didn’t seem like there was a clear cause and effect here,” Ellis
said. “It was just an indication that in mice studies that it showed
that decrease in atherosclerotic buildup or prevention. I’m not
sure I’ve seen any follow through from CDC or other experts advising
the use of pneumococcal vaccine in that capacity.
think we’ve taken a leap from that one study to making that an indication
to get pneumococcal vaccine,” she added.
not to say that Ellis thinks people shouldn’t go out and get their
flu and pneumonia shots. Her organization, The Visiting Nurses Association,
focuses on helping people get influenza shots, but the main complication
caused by influenza, Ellis said, is pneumonia. And not enough people
are getting either type of shot.
so underimmunized, the adult population in America, in all immunization
areas, but particularly in pneumonia and influenza as well,” she
said. “The most recent information that I’ve heard – and it does
vary state by state – but you’re looking at around 28 percent of
the population that’s recommended to get the shots” actually gets
group, Ellis said, includes people over 65 years of age, people
who have heart or kidney problems, people with immunity problems
and people who have other certain chronic diseases. And that’s a
list that includes plenty of OOIDA members. The U.S. Census Bureau
says the median age of the U.S. population in 2000 was 35.3 years,
the highest ever. But according to John Siebert of the OOIDA Foundation,
truckers average age is even higher: OOIDA’s membership averages
48 years of age.
said truckers who get a flu and pneumonia shot “would put themselves
in a whole lot better place in general health,” including complications
such as pneumonia, meningitis and other serious illnesses.
medical thought is that people should need only one pneumonia shot,
though Ellis said that if you can’t remember getting one in the
past 10 years, you should probably get another, a recommendation
she said most doctors were comfortable with.
vaccine combats six common types of pneumonia, but does not protect
against all types. It’s far better to get a shot and prevent the
illness in the first place than to try to fight it after catching
pneumonias are treatable by antibiotics, but we’re seeing much more
antibiotic-resistant organisms out there these days,” she said.
“That’s why it’s that much more important if you’re high-risk or
over 65 particularly to get that pneumococcal vaccine.”
the study from San Diego is right, however, that’s even better news
for those who get the shots. The researchers, who results were published
in the journal Nature Medicine, showed that the shot caused
an immune response in the mice’s bodies, reducing atherosclerosis
by 21 percent in the laboratory mice. The rodents included in the
study are used as models for coronary disease.
have used this same bacterial immunization for decades to study
an antibody response important for defense from infection,” Dr.
Gregg Silverman a coauthor and professor of medicine at UCSD, said.
“No one previously suspected that there might be relevance to other
types of diseases, especially a disease like atherosclerosis.”
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