Flu raises chance of stroke and persists for a year

The risk is particularly high in the fortnight afterwards, study finds

Patients with flu-like symptoms are at increased risk of stroke and cervical artery dissection, according to two US studies to be presented at an American Stroke Association conference.

In the first study, a review of nearly 31,000 ischaemic stroke patients with a mean age of 72 found flu-like symptoms increased the odds of having a stroke in the next 15 days by 40%.

Further, the increased risk remained for up to a year, Columbia University researchers found.

Researchers assessed the odds of being hospitalised for ischaemic stroke following hospitalisation for a flu-like illness.

To identify the risk, they reviewed the time period preceding each participant’s stroke and compared it to time windows for a control period using the same two dates from the previous two years.

The researchers speculated the association could be due to inflammation caused by the flu-like infection.