Flu jab: Flu jab may react with common stroke drug

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A recent email from a regular reader drew my attention to today’s topic. In his email he said that his wife who takes Warfarin, had a very bad reaction to the current flu jab. This prompted me to do a quick search on the Internet and I was surprised at what I found.

It seems that the flu jab may be anything but harmless for those who are on blood-thinning medication.

Vital information for pensioners on anti-stroke drugs

A recent article in the Telegraph stated that a number of pensioners have had serious interactions with the flu jab while taking stroke prevention drugs such as Warfarin.

The statistics speak for themselves. The reports of adverse reactions range back to 2001, and to date 449 interactions have been reported. And in 20 cases the reported reactions to the flu jab have been fatal.  Pensioners have died from blood poisoning, sudden death, pneumonia, heart attack and pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lung).

Incidences such as these have led the government’s Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) to run an inquiry into the safety of the flu jab for pensioners on Warfarin.

The committee were worried about the risk of fatal internal bleeding in over 65s on stroke medication. The well-respected medical reference the British National Formulary also states that the flu vaccine can at times, strengthen the effect of Warfarin.

So with all these reports of internal bleeding and death, why haven’t we heard much about this risk? In the run up to winter there have been many campaigns and much publicity surrounding the flu jab but this potentially life-saving information has hardly flashed across the front pages.

It seems there has been more concern over the threat of bird flu, which in reality is probably less of a threat to pensioners in this country who get the flu jab and are taking stroke medication.

What really gets my goat is that if there was an interaction between a natural supplement and the flu jab, you could bet on a deluge of media attention. But surprisingly, the vaccines reaction with Warfarin is not listed in the Government’s Green Book. Doctors refer to this book for information on drug interactions.

At the end of the inquiry the CSM decided not to alert GPs to the Warfarin-flu jab interaction as the majority of the medical studies they examined did not confirm the effect. Well, from where I’m sitting, a small risk is still a risk. And when the risk may involve internally bleeding to death Id say it was worth taking note of.

I’m not saying that every pensioner taking anti-stroke drugs should avoid the flu jab at all costs. Just be aware that there is a risk. Any elderly person in your family on blood-thinning medication may just benefit from this information.

Boost immunity to beat the flu

If you choose not to get the flu jab this winter there are natural alternatives available.

If you do pick up a flu virus, you won’t necessarily come down with the flu. Whether or not you become ill will depend on how well your immune system deals with the virus. So you might say that a virus doesn’t give you the flu – an immune system that doesn’t defeat the virus is what gives you the flu. The key is immunity.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – an amino acid that naturally stimulates your body to produce glutathione – is a powerful antioxidant enzyme. Previous studies have shown that patients with ailments associated with a breakdown in the immune system are often deficient in their levels of glutathione.

NAC has been used for many years to treat chronic respiratory ailments with its ability to break up and dissolve the mucous that contributes to pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis.

And just a few years ago, an Italian study found that supplementation with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) significantly increased immunity to flu infection. Over a six-month trial, only 29 per cent of those taking NAC developed symptoms of the flu versus 51 per cent of those taking a placebo. Of the 262 people taking part in this study, three-quarters were over the age of 65.

300 mg of NAC per day is probably both effective and safe for most people. But it’s always a good idea to consult a trusted healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement regimen.

Keep flu at bay with natural supplements

In addition to NAC supplements, there are a number of other supplements that may help keep the flu away from the door. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene have all been shown to help fight colds and flu.

In previous e-alerts I’ve told you about the advantages of selenium – a naturally occurring mineral with antioxidant properties. A study has concluded that selenium may stop viruses from mutating and becoming more potent.

And finally, we have echinacea – the herb that’s become so well known in recent years for its apparent ability to help reduce the length and severity of colds and flu.

How this is done is not yet known, although some studies have indicated that echinacea may stimulate the production of white blood cells that are necessary to effectively manage viruses. An American study on echinacea was conducted at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. It purported to be one of the first human studies of this herb, and the researchers concluded that the effectiveness of echinacea may lie in its ability to strengthen a specific part of the immune system that is known to attack viruses.

So if the idea of getting a flu shot is reassuring to you, don’t let me stop you. But there’s a very good chance that all the flu protection you need can be achieved by getting the right amount of sleep, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a light to moderate exercise regimen, and supplementing with a few proven helpers in the yearly fight between us and the flu bug.


Disclaimer: This article is part of the Daily Health's extensive research archive. The research and information contained in this article was accurate at the the time of publication but may have been updated since the date of publication. Consult our most recent articles for the latest research on alternative health and natural breakthroughs.

Bear in mind the material provided in this content is for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

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  • Flu jabs are crap! People should take care of their health permanently… It’s when we let ourselves go when we start to get sick!

  • My mother was put on Warfarin in August 2008 to await a cardioversion because she was out of breath in October she was given the flu jab and within 2 hours could not speak she had suffered a small stroke, her speech has not returned and all doctors say it is coincidental re flu jab. Please can anyone help stop this

  • had flu jab on monday and was extremelly dizzy for 24 hrs after – had previous flu jabs but no reaction at all am on no drugs other than HRT – can you tell me what the reason for this would be please

  • My 3 year old son also had a flu jab 2 days ago, he’s having fever, around 38 degrees C and the place of injection is swollen and itchy.

  • I had a flu jab four days ago and on the second day the injected area on my arm became quite hot and swollen. On the third day it was quite itchy also, today is about the same. Is this something to worry about

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