According to Counsel & Heal, shingles increases risk of heart disease and stroke if contracted before the age of 40. Researchers followed individuals for an average of 6.3 years after they contracted the disease. The study found that participants who had shingles before age 40 were 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack than people who did not have the disease; they were also 74 percent more likely to have a stroke per Fox News. It also revealed that a bout of shingles increases risk of heart attack by 10 percent and the risk of mini-stroke or transient ischemic attack, by 15 percent.
The study involved 106,601 people with shingles and 213,202 match controls. They accounted for smoking, cholesterol, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, and other vascular risk factors.Given the results of these findings, lead researcher Dr. Judith Breuer of the University College London recommended that anyone who has shingles should be screened for both heart and stroke risk factors.
“Anyone with shingles, and especially younger people, should be screened for stroke risk factors,” Breuer told Counsel & Heal. “The shingles vaccine has been shown to reduce the number of cases of shingles by about 50 percent. Studies are needed to determine whether vaccination can also reduce the incidence of stroke and heart attack. However, what is also clear is that factors that increase the risk of stroke also increase the risk of shingles, so we do not know if vaccinating people can reduce the risk of stroke per se. Current recommendations are that anyone 60 years and older should be vaccinated. The role for vaccination in younger individuals with vascular risk factors needs to be determined.”
Current shingles vaccinations recommendations are for those over the age of 60. Breuer said researchers have yet to determine the role of vaccination in younger individuals.
The findings are published in the journal of Neurology.