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Researchers find flu shot linked to lower risk of stroke

by Vaishali Sharma

A study suggests that receiving an annual flu vaccine may reduce the risk of stroke. The American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal reported the study’s findings.

“Studies have shown that getting the flu increases your risk of having a stroke, but research is still being collected on whether getting the flu vaccine can help protect against a stroke,” said study author Francisco J. de Abajo, MD, MPH, PhD, of the University of Alcala in Madrid, Spain. “This observational study suggests that those who have a flu shot have a lower risk of stroke. To determine whether this is due to a protective effect of the vaccine itself or to other factors, more research is needed.”

The most prevalent kind of stroke, ischemic stroke, which is brought on by a restriction in blood flow to the brain, was the subject of the study.

In order to gather data for the study, researchers searched a Spanish healthcare database for individuals who were at least 40 years old and had their first stroke within the previous 14 years. Five persons of the same age and sex were compared to each stroke victim. There were 71,610 persons who did not suffer a stroke and 14,322 people who did.

Then, for individuals who did not experience a stroke, the researchers looked at whether persons had gotten the influenza vaccination at least 14 days before to the stroke.

In comparison to 40.5% of those who did not have a stroke, 41.4% of those who did had had the flu vaccination. However, those who received the injection had a higher likelihood of being older and having additional health issues, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that would increase their risk of having a stroke. After adjusting for those variables, researchers discovered that those who took a flu vaccination had a 12% lower risk of having a stroke than people who did not.

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Additionally, the risk of stroke was examined to determine if the pneumococcal vaccination had any preventive effects.

“These results are yet another reason for people to get their yearly flu shot, especially if they are at an increased risk of stroke,” de Abajo said. “To be able to reduce your risk of stroke by taking such a simple action is very compelling.”

As an observational research, it cannot be concluded that the flu vaccination lowers the risk of stroke. Only an association is displayed. Other elements that potentially have an impact on stroke risk were not assessed.

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