Getting An Annual Flu Shot May Offer This Unexpected Health Benefit

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that receiving your annual flu vaccine can minimize your chances of getting sick by as much as 60%. Even for those who do catch the flu, vaccination has been shown to lessen the severity of symptoms, as well as reduce the number of flu-related doctor's visits and hospitalizations.

Now, a new study published in Neurology suggests there may be an additional health perk to receiving your flu vaccine. Researchers tracked patient healthcare data spanning 14 years from Spanish participants between the ages of 40 and 99. As reported by HealthDay News, out of roughly 86,000 adults, it was found that those who received their yearly flu vaccination were at a slightly lesser risk for ischemic stroke compared to those who did not receive the flu vaccine. This risk reduction was observed most predominantly in the 14 days to a month following vaccination. However, it was shown to potentially last as long as a year.

Outside factors that could lower stroke risk

Specifically, vaccinated individuals were found to be about 12% less susceptible to ischemic stroke, reports HealthDay News. However, this relationship was not observed in patients receiving the pneumococcal vaccine. While one might think this indicates something uniquely special about the flu vaccine, researchers acknowledged that it could not be deemed the definitive cause for these outcomes. Senior researcher Dr. Francisco Jose de Abajo elaborated while speaking to HealthDay News — those who opt to receive the flu vaccine may also engage in other healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise or taking prescribed medications to keep their blood pressure regulated. These can all potentially lower the risk of stroke.

Even so, the study team believes its findings may point to another potential way to reduce our risk of stroke. "The flu shot is not 100% effective, but it's pretty darn good," co-author of the study, Dr. Mitchell Elkind, stated via HealthDay. Dr. De Abajo expressed similar sentiments and hopes that continued research will highlight how flu vaccines can support our overall health.