Shingles May Increase Stroke, Heart Attack Risk
People who have shingles may be at a higher risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack, according to new research published in _PLOS Medicine. _
Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that can occur in people who have had chicken pox when they were younger. The virus remains dormant in the body, but can become active again as shingles.
A research team from the London School of Hygiene identified 42,954 Medicare beneficiaries who had shingles and an ischemic stroke, and 24,237 people who had the virus and a heart attack during a five-year period. They then calculated the chance of having stroke or heart attack within 12 months of a shingles diagnosis.
Among those diagnosed with shingles within the past year, there was a 2.4-times higher chance of an ischemic stroke and 1.7 times higher chance of heart attack in the first week after the virus resurfaced. The risk decreased gradually over the six months following the diagnosis.
Shingles can appear at any age but particularly in people older than 60, people who had chicken pox before the age of one year, or individuals with a weakened immune system. Scientists don't know why the virus reappears.
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