Shingles Linked To Higher Risk Of Heart Attack And Stroke

By: Sara G. Miller
Published: 12/16/2015 10:52 AM EST on LiveScience

A bout of shingles may increase your risk for other serious health conditions — namely, a stroke or a heart attack — a new study finds.

People in the study who had shingles, a disease caused by the herpes zoster virus, faced a 2.4-fold increased risk of stroke, and a 1.7-fold increased risk of heart attack during the first week following their shingles diagnosis, according to the findings published today (Dec. 15) in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Because cardiovascular events are major causes of mortality, it’s important to understand what causes these events, and what can be done to prevent them, said Caroline Minassian, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the lead author on the study. [Chickenpox & Shingles: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment]

“Our study highlights when patients with shingles may be most vulnerable” to having a heart attack or stroke, Minassian told Live Science.

The study showed that patients with shingles had a higher risk of stroke and heart attack during the first three months after their shingles diagnosis, Minassian said. “The risk peaked in the first week after diagnosis, and gradually returned to normal levels within six months,” she said.

This is not the first study to look at a link between shingles and cardiovascular events. Minassian’s group previously found that shingles was associated with a temporary increase in stroke risk in a British population.

That previous study, however, compared people who had shingles to people who did not have shingles, so factors such as differences in cardiovascular risk may have affected the results, Minassian said.

In the new study, the researchers only included people who reported having shingles, and compared the people who went on to have a heart attack —> Read More