A pneumonia vaccine can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%, research shows – as evidence grows that shots could boost the immune system to protect the brain
- Researchers looked at the medical records of more than 5,100 people aged 65 or older
- They found that receiving the pneumonia vaccine reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease between 25% and 30%
- Among those who do not have genetic risk factors for the disease, the lamprey reduced the risk by up to 40%
- Theories about why the vaccination protects include boosts to the immune system and protection against a major attack of pneumonia that can accelerate the onset of dementia
Getting vaccinated against pneumonia can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.
In a study presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Monday – to be held almost this year – Duke University scientists looked at the medical records of people 65 and older.
They found that getting the immunization against pneumonia before age 75 reduced the risk of age-related brain disease by about a third.
In addition, for those who did not have genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s or dementia, the shot reduced the risk by up to 40 percent.
A new study from Duke University found that receiving the pneumonia vaccine reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 25% to 30% and up to 40% in people without genetic risk factors (file image)
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are at the forefront of public health discussions,” said Dr. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, in a statement.
“It’s important to investigate its usefulness, not only to protect against viral or bacterial infection, but also to improve long-term health outcomes.”
An estimated 5.8 million Americans over 65 years of age will live with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020 and are expected to reach 13.8 million by 2050.
Sufferers experience a decline in cognitive, behavioral, and physical abilities, and there is no cure.
Those who have the disease have a build-up of two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, in the brain that form clumps, which choke and destroy neurons – leading to loss of memory and confusion.
For the study, the team looked at the medical records of more than 5,100 people aged 65 or older.
They compared people who received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) or the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) with those who did not.
HOW TO DETECT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking and the ability to perform simple tasks.
It is the cause of 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases.
The majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older.
More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
It is not known what causes Alzheimer’s disease. Those who have the APOE gene are more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty remembering newly learned information
- Mood and behavioral changes
- Suspicion about family, friends and healthcare professionals
- More severe memory loss
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Mild Alzheimer’s (early phase) – A person may be able to function independently, but has amnesia
- Moderate Alzheimer’s (middle stage) – Usually it is the longest phase, the person may confuse words, get frustrated or angry or show sudden behavioral changes
- Severe Alzheimer’s Disease (Late Stage) – In the final stage, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, engage in conversation, and ultimately control movement
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but experts suggest exercise, social interaction, and adding brain-boosting omega-3 fats to your diet to prevent or delay the onset of symptoms.
Volunteers who received the shot with and without seasonal flu were also compared.
Researchers found that those who received a pneumonia vaccine before age 75 were between 25 and 30 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The largest decrease, up to 40 percent, was seen in vaccinated people and non-carriers of a gene that increases the risk of the disease.
However, administering a flu shot in addition to the pneumonia vaccine did not help reduce the risk.
“Vaccinations against pneumonia before the age of 75 can reduce the risk of later onset Alzheimer’s depending on the individual genotype,” said lead author Dr. Svetlana Ukraintseva, an associate professor in the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit at Duke University’s Social Science Research. Institute.
“These data suggest that pneumococcal vaccine may be a promising candidate for personalized Alzheimer’s prevention, especially in non-carriers of certain risk genes.”
Some researchers believe that the vaccine can boost the immune system and provide some protection to the brain when vulnerable to deterioration.
It’s also possible that a serious infection, such as a bad attack of the pneumonia, can accelerate the onset of dementia in those who are already at risk.
it comes on the heels of another study presented at the conference by the McGovern Medical School of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Researchers looked at medical records of more than 9,000 patients over the age of 60 and found that only one flu vaccination was linked to a 17 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, people who were immunized more than once had an additional 13 percent decrease in incidence.
“Our study suggests that regular use of a very accessible and relatively inexpensive intervention – the flu shot – can significantly reduce Alzheimer’s dementia risk,” said Albert Amran, a fourth-year medical student at McGovern, in a statement.
“More research is needed to investigate the biological mechanism for this effect – why and how it works in the body – which is important if we are investigating effective preventative therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.”