“Studies have shown that getting the flu makes you more likely to have a stroke, but more research needs to be done to see if getting a flu shot can protect you from having a stroke,” said Francisco J., who wrote the study. de Abajo, MD, MPH, PhD, of Madrid, Spain’s University of Alcalá. “This observational study suggests that people who get a flu shot are less likely to have a stroke. More research is needed to find out if this is because the flu shot protects against strokes or because of something else.”
The study looked at an ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke and happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
For the study, researchers looked at a health care database in Spain to find people who were at least 40 years old and had their first stroke over 14 years. Each stroke patient was compared to five other people of the same age and gender. There were 14,322 strokes and 71,610 people who did not have a stroke.
Then, the researchers looked at whether or not the flu shot had been given at least 14 days before the stroke or before the same date for those who did not have a stroke.
If you or a loved one is living with a chronic condition like hypertension, asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, a flu shot is the best way to #FightFlu and reduce your risk of developing serious flu complications. Learn more. https://t.co/A67MIvZG38
— CDC Division for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention (@CDCHeart_Stroke) December 7, 2021
41.4% of the people who had a stroke had gotten the flu shot, while only 40.5% of the people who did not have a stroke had gotten the shot. But the people who got the shot were more likely to be older and to have health problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol that made them more likely to have a stroke.
After researchers took these things into account, they found that getting a flu shot made people 12% less likely to have a stroke than not getting one.
The researchers also looked at how the pneumonia vaccine might affect the chance of having a stroke. They found that it did not protect against strokes.
“These results are another reason for people to get their annual flu shot, especially if they are more likely to have a stroke,” de Abajo said. “The fact that you can lower your risk of stroke with such a simple step is very convincing.”
Since it was an observational study, it doesn’t prove that getting a flu shot lowers the chance of having a stroke. It only shows that there is a link. There could be other things that affect the risk of stroke that was not measured.
The Biomedical Research Foundation of the Prince of Asturias University Hospital in Madrid and the Institute of Health Carlos III in Madrid both gave money to help with the study.
Stay tuned for more updates at journalization.org