According to a new South Korean study, shingles - a reactivation of the chicken pox virus that commonly affects older people - boosts your risk of heart problems like heart attack and stroke. If you had chicken pox as a child and assumed that that was the end of it, you've been mistaken…
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, meaning “belt” or “girdle” is characterised by a rash and small blisters resembling chicken pox filled with clear fluid that break and crust before they disappear.
According to the researchers behind the study, besides for the very uncomfortable rash on the girdle line that shingles causes, people who are affected also have an increased risk of heart problems such as heart attack and stroke. Read on for more on this interesting study…
South Korean study links shingles to a 41% higher risk of heart problems like heart attack and stroke
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
and was based on a medical database of 519 880 patients whose records researchers tracked from 2003 to 2013. It found that people affected by shingles were a whopping 41% more likely to experience heart problems such as heart attack and stroke when researchers compared them to an age-matched control group that didn’t have shingles.
More specifically, the study found that the risk of stroke and heart attack was 35% and 59% higher respectively among people with shingles. Interestingly, it also found that the risk for stroke was most prominent in people under 40 years old. The study concluded that the riskiest period was the first five years after infection and that the risks appeared to decline thereafter.
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Researchers aren’t clear on how shingles boosts your risk of heart problems like heart attack and stroke…
While researchers found an association between shingles and boosted risk of heart problems like heart attack and stroke, they weren’t able to determine exactly how shingles increases your risk of heart problems and said that more study needs to be carried out.
“While these findings require further study into the mechanism that causes shingles patients to have an increased risk of heart problems like heart attack and stroke, it’s important that physicians treating these patients make them aware of their increased risk,” said Sung-Han Kim, lead author of the study.