Shingles causes spike in risk of stroke, heart attack

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPVI) -- An episode of shingles may temporarily put you at a greater risk for other serious problems.

Two new studies show in the first week after someone is diagnosed with shingles, the risk for stroke more than doubles.

And the risk for heart attack is almost that high.

The risk gradually goes down, reaching normal levels in six months.

Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster, or chickenpox, virus.

It's believed the spike may be due to inflammation or high blood pressure due to pain or stress.

Multiple previous studies have identified the link between shingles and transient risk for stroke, but fewer have linked herpes zoster to MI.

More studies are needed, but it's important to recognize when people may be at a greater risk.

The shingles vaccine is recommended for everyone 60 and older.

One study was done by Olmstead Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, while the other was done by a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Data for the London-based study was based on record of more than 64,000 United States Medicare beneficiaries.
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