Shingles Substantially Increases Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

November 22, 2017

If you've ever had shingles, you already know just how painful this virus can be. You also know how hard it is to get rid of the pain. Anyone who has had the chickenpox is at risk of this disease, which is essentially a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. Most of us had chickenpox as children, and about one in three of us will go on to develop shingles at some point, with the risk increasing as we age. If you've been that one, there's even more bad news. Once you finally beat the virus, you now have an increased risk of some other dangerous conditions, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

As you may have guessed from the journal's title, once you've had shingles you have an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. South Korean researchers evaluated information from the National Health Insurance Service's database to determine this connection. They examined data from a group of 23,213 patients who experienced shingles during the period 2003 to 2013, matching them to a control group who had not suffered from the virus.

They did find some shared risk factors for shingles and cardiovascular disease: shingles sufferers were more likely to be older, have high blood pressure, be diabetic, and have high cholesterol. However, they also had some favorable characteristics in that they were less likely to smoke, consumed less alcohol, exercised more frequently, and had higher socioeconomic status. So, it seems that shared risk factors isn't enough to explain the connection.

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After evaluating the data, the researchers concluded that having shingles raises your risk of a cardiovascular event by 41%. In particular, stroke risk increased 35% and heart attack risk increased 59%. The risk is highest in people under 40 and for people who experienced shingles within the past year. The good news is your risk does decrease over time. 

The researchers aren't entirely sure what's causing the increased risk of cardiovascular events in shingles patients, but they want this population to be aware of the issue. If you've experienced shingles, particularly recently, you may want to take some extra precautions to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. In addition to watching your diet and exercising, take nutrients like those in Mediterranean Cholesterol Formula to protect your heart and brain. It's unfortunate but true that shingles affects more than just your skin.

To your health, naturally, 


Sarah R. Jackman, Oliver C. Witard, Andrew Philp, Gareth A. Wallis, Keith Baar, Kevin D. Tipton. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Frontiers in Physiology, 2017; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00390.

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