Winter flu jab may reduce stroke risk by up to a quarter

 

Having the winter flu jab may reduce the risk of suffering a stroke, researchers have found.

In analysis of more than 47,000 medical records, patients who were vaccinated against influenza were found to be 24 per cent less likely to have a stroke in the same flu season, experts at the University of Lincoln and the University of Nottingham said.

The risk of cardiovascular diseases like strokes may be increased by infections of the lungs and airways such as flu, which peak in winter, doctors suggested.

Researchers said that while they could not prove direct cause and effect between having the flu jab and lowering stroke risk, the findings merited further investigation.

“The causes of stroke are not fully understood. Classical risk factors like age, smoking and high blood pressure can account for just over half of all cases,” said Professor Niro Siriwardena, from the University of Lincoln.

“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.”

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