Two studies have linked ‘flu-like illnesses with an increased risk of a stroke and tears in the inner wall of the neck arteries; both studies were presented at the American Stroke Association’s conference in 2019.
The first study showed that the ‘flu-like illness was linked with almost a 40 per cent increased risk of stroke over the 15 days following the illness, and that level of risk remained for a year.
Researchers from Columbia University were expecting to find differences between males and females and urban/rural but did not. 30,912 patients who suffered an ischemic stroke in 2014 had the medical records reviewed from the 2012-2014 inpatient and outpatient New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS). Of the sample, 49 per cent were male, 20 per cent black, 84 per cent urban and average age 71.9 years old.
The researchers believe the increased risk is due to inflammation caused by the infection but they are not sure.
In a second study from the same University team, researchers found an increased risk of tearing the inner wall of neck arteries within one month of battling a flu-like illness. Non- traumatic ‘cervical artery dissection’ is a leading cause of ischemic stroke in patients 15 to 45-years of age.
Researchers reviewed 3,861 cases (average age 52 years, 55 per cent male) of first non-traumatic cervical artery tears from the New York health data base. They found 1,736 instances of flu-like illness and 113 of actual influenza during the three years prior to the tears.
In this study, the risk peaked within 30 days.