The Link between Shingles, Stroke and Heart Disease
According to a new study by British researchers, the herpes zostes virus, more commonly known as shingles may affect the risk of heart attack and stroke in people who have had an outbreak before the age of 40. The research included the results of more than 300,000 people, about 105,000 of whom were infected by shingles. Adults with shingles aged 18-40 were more than likely to suffer from a stroke or heart attack in the following 20 years after the outbreak.
What Is Shingles?
As defined by the CDC, the zostes virus starts out as a rash on one side of your body, forming painful blisters that scab over in a week to 10 days and typically goes away after 2-4 weeks. The virus, which is more susceptible in people who have already had the chicken pox is more likely to increase the risk of heart attack in patients who were diagnosed with shingles before the age of 40.
Shingles is a virus that stays in nerve cells after a chicken pox outbreak and in a lot of cases is latent forever. Having a weak immune system makes the body more susceptible to the virus. People who go through periods of high levels of stress, have HIV or usually have immune system issues are more inclined to awaken the latent virus. Shingles cannot be spread to people who have already had chicken pox. The virus can spread in the body, inflaming nerves and blood vessels, which can cause vascular disease.
Some symptoms include, headache, fever and general discomfort. However, those symptoms can lead to misdiagnosis. More relevant symptoms are the ones that follow, such as a tingling sensation, itching and burning on the skin where the rash is set to appear. Shingles affects about 1 out of 3 people in the US. There is a zoster vaccine that will prevent shingles altogether. However, if the vaccine is not taken treatments include, antiviral medicines to shorten infection duration and painkillers to relieve the rashes’ discomfort.
What Can I Do?
Doctors suggest people who suffer from cardiovascular disease get vaccinated for shingles to prevent future complications. Generally, shingles affects people over the age of 60, but if you have been diagnosed with shingles before 40 and suffer from cardiovascular disease, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor about risk factors and preventative measures to ensure your health. The findings are very new and there is much research ahead to find out more information about this link. The best thing to do is maintain a healthy diet and exercise and consult with your doctor.