Health Medical

Shingles can cause coronary disease and stroke in older people


HQ Team

December 22, 2022: A longitudinal study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, has found a strong association between the incidence of cardiovascular incidences and shingles.

Experts say that studies have found that over 90 percent of the world population has the varicella-zoster virus lying dormant carried over from childhood.

The same virus can become active in a third of these people as shingles also called herpes zoster. Besides the painful skin rash, the disease can affect other underlying complications.

The researchers analysed data of 205,030 adults who participated in three separate studies. The cohort included 79,658 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, 93,932 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 31,440 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The study says that there is a 30 percent risk of stroke among people suffering from shingles, which stays elevated for a year after suffering from the disease. Stroke risk doubled among people for those with a rash on their face and tripled for those under the age of 40. The risk of cardiovascular problems stays active for 12 years or more after a case of shingles.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Sharon E. Curhan, an epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Channing Division of Network Medicine, said:

“Although some previous studies showed a higher risk of stroke or heart attack around the time of the shingles infection, it was not known whether this higher risk persisted in the long term.”

The participants answered a questionnaire at enrollment in their respective studies and completed follow-up questionnaires every 2 years. All were health professionals.

All shingles and subsequent coronary events were self-reported and found to be accurate when crosschecked with the treating physicians.

Herpes Roster

The latent virus reactivates in the dorsal root nerve ganglion near the spinal cord as herpes zoster, and symptoms of shingles appear. Most people who get shingles are over 50, having had chickenpox as children. In younger people, the vaccinations effect remains more active. People over the age of 50 are more susceptible to heart diseases, and shingles is another potential cause.

Ischemic stroke is the most severe complication that can occur due to the narrowing of arteries and blocking of the same by clots.

Research on the association between shingles and cardiovascular events is in its nascent stage; it is not definite that one definitely leads to other. Herpes Zoster virus is known to replicate in the arteries. Vasculopathy or damage to blood vessels from shingles includes arterial wall damage and endothelial dysfunction, disrupting plaque and blood clotting.

People over 50 are advised to get vaccinated against shingles

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