BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows that shingles can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
The study, which was published on December 15, reveals a connection between shingles and an elevated risk of heart disease, although it does not prove that one necessarily causes the other.
Shingles is a disease caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and it is manifested by a painful rash on one side of the body that contains blisters. It is brought about by a reactivation of the virus. But unlike chicken pox, which usually appears in children, shingles is most common in elderly people, usually over the age of 60.
Around one million Americans get shingles every year. In fact anyone who has ever had chicken pox is predisposed to shingles in their old age.
It can be treated either with antiviral medication or with a vaccine called Zostavax, which reduces the risk of contracting the disease and the symptoms when it does manage to set in.
The study doesn’t bring radically new information, as a connection between the virus and heart failure has been long suspected, but it does help to strengthen the presupposition.
More precisely, the results show that in the first week after a shingles diagnosis, the stroke risk increases two-fold, while the risk for heart attack is even higher. The risk of a stroke remains high for the first 3 months after the shingles diagnosis, but it is highest in that first week. But so far, the elevation appears to be only temporary, as it goes back to normal levels within six months.
The study was done on data that documented the evolution of patients both diagnosed with shingles and having suffered a stroke. The data included details about 43,000 patients that were treated between the years 2006 and 2011.
Their mean age was 80 and about 60 percent were female while 40 percent were male. 90 percent of the subjects were Caucasian.
Scientists say that the study is helpful because it emphasizes the period when patients diagnosed with shingles are the most vulnerable. So, if anyone is diagnosed with shingles and is a senior, they should visit their doctor as soon as possible, for their life may be at risk.
Image source: www.static1.squarespace.com