Flu jab could cut risk of stroke by quarter

Flu jab could cut risk of stroke by quarter


Having the seasonal flu jab could reduce the risk of suffering a stroke by almost a quarter, researchers have found. Academics from Nottingham and Lincoln universities discovered that patients who had been vaccinated against influenza were 24 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke in the same flu season. In 2010, the same research team showed a similar link between flu vaccination and reduced risk of heart attack. It is believe the flu virus causes widespread inflammation which triggers plaques in the arteries to erupt and also forces the heart to work harder.


Niro Siriwardena, Professor of Primary and Pre-hospital Healthcare in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln said: "We know that cardiovascular diseases tend to hit during winter and that the risks may be heightened by respiratory infections such as flu. "Our study showed a highly significant association between flu vaccination and reduced risk of stroke within the same flu season. The results were consistent with our previous research into heart attack risk."


The study analysed the records of more than 47,000 stroke patients between 2001 and 2009 and compared them to a similar number of people in a control group. They found flu vaccination was associated with a 24 per cent reduction in risk of stroke when all other variations were accounted for. The reduction was strongest if the vaccination was given early in the flu season.


Professor Siriwardena added: "Further experimental studies would be needed to better understand the relationship between flu vaccination and stroke risk. "However, these findings reinforce the value of the UK’s national flu vaccination programme with reduced risk of stroke appearing to be an added health benefit."


In the UK the seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for everyone over 65 years of age and other at-risk groups, such as those with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Take-up of the vaccine across England is lower than national targets at 74 per cent for over-65s in 2011/12 and around 52 per cent for under-65s in at-risk groups. Their findings are reported in the scientific journal Vaccine.


By Sarah Knapton,


The Telegraph, the 21st of February, 2014.


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