Could Shingles Be Tied to Stroke & Heart Attack Risk?

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that shingles may be tied to an increased risk for heart disease.

The researchers for the study looked at medical records for more than 23,000 people in South Korea who had shingles. The medical records spanned from 2003 to 2013. The researchers also reviewed a similar amount of data on patients who did not have shingles. The findings were that the group with shingles had a 59 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 35 percent higher risk of stroke when compared to the other group.

The risk for stroke was highest for those under 40 years of age. The risks of both were higher the first year after the onset of shingles, and then decreased over time.

Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. About one third of Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime. The recent study cannot prove the causation between shingles and heart disease, but the results suggest that more research may be needed. Patients with shingles were more likely to be female and have additional risk factors for heart disease, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

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