Flu shots linked to lower stroke risk, study suggests

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A stroke is a severe medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, similar to a roadblock stopping traffic.

The most common type of stroke, known as an “ischemic stroke,” is caused by a blockage in the blood vessels leading to the brain.

Amid concerns about stroke prevention, a flu shot—a vaccine that helps fight the flu—might also play a role in reducing stroke risk.

This possibility was explored by Dr. Francisco J. de Abajo and his team in Spain through a comprehensive study.

Over 14 years, the researchers analyzed health records from a large Spanish database, comparing 14,322 people who had experienced a stroke with 71,610 who had not. Both groups were matched by age and gender to ensure fairness in comparison.

The key question was whether having received a flu shot at least two weeks before a stroke incident, or on a corresponding date for the control group, could influence stroke risk.

Initially, they observed that 41.4% of stroke patients had received the flu vaccine, compared to 40.5% of those without a stroke. However, those vaccinated often had other health issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are known risk factors for stroke.

After adjusting for these health conditions, the findings were significant: those who had received the flu shot were 12% less likely to have a stroke.

This suggests a protective benefit from the flu vaccine. The study also explored whether the pneumonia vaccine affected stroke risk, but no connection was found.

Dr. de Abajo pointed out that these findings provide another compelling reason to get an annual flu shot, particularly for individuals at higher risk of stroke.

He highlighted that a simple preventive measure like vaccination could potentially reduce the risk of this serious health issue.

However, it’s important to note that this study was observational. This means it can show an association between flu vaccination and reduced stroke risk but cannot prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

There may be other factors not accounted for in the study that could influence the risk of stroke. Therefore, further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the mechanisms involved.

This research emphasizes the potential broader benefits of flu vaccination beyond just preventing the flu.

It suggests that getting vaccinated could be a wise choice for those concerned about stroke risk, especially in the colder months when both flu and stroke rates tend to rise.

The study’s results were published in the journal Neurology, contributing valuable insights into the ongoing discussion about the benefits of vaccines and their impact on overall health.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about how to eat to prevent stroke, and diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and wild blueberries can benefit your heart and brain.

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