Shingles Increases The Risk Of Attacks In Older Adults
Older people who suffer from the painful rash known as shingles seem to face a short-term increase in the risk of stroke (stroke) or heart attack, a new study indicates.
The findings are based on tracking the heart health of more than 67,000 patients who had newly diagnosed shingles from 65 years.
The analysis revealed that the risk of stroke increased more than two in the first week after a diagnosis of shingles, and that the risk of heart attack also increased, although not as much. The risk of both conditions appeared to return to normal within six months.
“The study highlights the time when patients shingles may have the greatest vulnerability,” said study author Caroline Minassian, a researcher at the faculty of epidemiology and population health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, In England.
“If we know what time it is more likely to happen these events, this could potentially help prevent strokes and heart attacks in older people,” he added.
Minassian and colleagues reported their findings in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox is facing some risk of getting shingles, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke EE. UU. More than one million Americans contract the disease each year, the researchers said.
Many of them are elderly people, who usually are diagnosed after the onset of pain from mild to severe burning sensation or tingling on one side of the body. Rashes and blisters that arise are treatable with antiviral drugs. Also, a vaccine (Zostavax) which was released in 2006 may reduce the risk of shingles by half, while significantly reduces the severity of symptoms when shingles attacks.
The study focused on nearly 43,000 Medicare insured diagnosed with shingles and stroke between 2006 and 2011. It also included some 24,000 shingles patients who experienced a heart attack in the same period.
The average age of patients was 80 years, about two-thirds were women and about 90 percent were white. Very few (between 2 and 3 percent) had received the shingles vaccine before diagnosis, the authors of the study.
cases of stroke and heart attack in five different periods in the year after diagnosis of shingles were followed: one week, between two and four weeks between five and 12 weeks, between 13 and 26 weeks, and six months.
Compared with the risk of the patient before a diagnosis of shingles, it was observed that the risk of stroke increased “significantly” for up to three months after a diagnosis of shingles. The largest increase (equivalent to an increase of more than double the risk) occurred in the first week. That risk faded after six months, the researchers found.
An increased risk of heart attack followed a similar path: the risk almost doubled in the first week after a diagnosis of shingles, the findings showed.
The study team said there is no evidence that the vaccine would prevent shingles or aggravate the risk of stroke or heart attack.
“But this finding warrants further investigation, due to poor use of the vaccine in the study population,” Minassian said.
As for the exact reason that the shingles threaten heart health, Minassian said the study “did not observe the mechanisms involved in the associations”. And the findings do not prove a causal relationship between the virus and cardiovascular problems.
“But could it possible reasons include higher general level of inflammation in the body associated with a viral infection, or damage to blood vessels [virus-induced]” he said. “The sharp increases in blood pressure associated with pain or stress associated with shingles may also have a role.”
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiology at the University of California at Los Angeles, said the study by Minassian and colleagues is the first to identify a possible link between shingles and a general increase in risk of heart problems .
He said the difference is that “this new study finds a significant association shortly after the onset of the shingles.”
But shingles, Fonarow said, is not the only condition that has an apparent ability to undermine cardiovascular health. Influenza, community-acquired pneumonia and urinary tract infections have been linked previously with a similar increase in the risk of heart complications, he said.