A Flu Vaccine Can Reduce Your Stroke Risk by 24%

 A stroke is a serious medical problem that can lead to disability or even death. Any tool that you can use to prevent a stroke from happening to you can prolong your life and improve your quality of life.

Infections and Stroke

Children and adults experience an increased incidence of stroke during and shortly after serious infections. In fact, more strokes happen during the winter than during other seasons. Parents can help protect their children from having a stroke by making sure that children get vaccinated as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Adults​, too, can benefit from vaccines. Science has put vaccines to the test and studies prove that vaccines have been shown to help prevent serious infections. A surprising and unexpected outcome of influenza vaccines, however, is the prevention of stroke.

Flu Vaccine and Stroke

 A large research study in England included over 40,000 patients with stroke or TIA and compared their vaccination rates to people of the same age and stroke risk profile who had not experienced stroke. Interestingly, there was a 24% reduction in stroke among the patients who had influenza vaccines early in the flu season. The most noticeable reduction in stroke was observed in patients who had influenza vaccines between September and mid-November, but patients who got vaccinated later in the season also experienced a reduced risk of stroke.

Repeating Your Flu Vaccination Every Flu Season

 Another research study reported that patients who repeat flu vaccinations every flu season had a lower stroke rate than patients who had fewer or no vaccinations. This is because each year, the characteristics of the most prevalent influenza virus alter a little, so the vaccine is regularly revised to protect against the newer or most aggressive flu virus before it can cause an infection.

Why Does Flu Vaccine Protect Against Stroke?

There are probably several explanations for why the influenza vaccine protects against stroke. When you have a severe infection and fever, it can increase your risk of stroke by altering your blood pressure, your heart function, your blood sugar,​ and your blood-clotting tendency, increasing your stroke risk.

However, there are other, less obvious reasons. Being sick can prevent you from taking your regular medications due to fatigue, sleepiness, nausea or vomiting. This can lead to uncontrolled stroke risk factors. Another problem is that when you have an infection, one infection can lead to another - if you have the flu, this can also increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection, prolonging your recovery.

What Does This Mean for You?

People who get flu vaccines tend to take care of their health in other ways as well. Make sure to get plugged in with a primary care physician or a nurse practitioner who will keep track of your health conditions and prescribe medications for you as needed. Make sure to control your stroke risk factors, to take your medications as prescribed and to lead a healthy, stroke prevention lifestyle. Learn to recognize the signs of a stroke or a TIA so that you can get medical attention right away if you experience any early signs of stroke.

Where Can You Get a Flu Vaccine?

Right before flu season, it is usually relatively easy to get a flu vaccine at your primary physician or nurse practitioner’s office. Ambulatory care centers, work place clinics and even some supermarkets and retail stores provide influenza vaccinations. There have been shortages of vaccination supplies in past years, but these shortages have not been a problem recently. Sometimes, your health insurance covers influenza vaccinations, particularly because it is a cost savings investment- infections are generally more costly than vaccines.

Taking Care of Your Health

Taking good care of your health can take a little of your time. But your health is worth it.

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