Shingles linked with higher risk for heart disease and stroke: Study
People who’ve had shingles have a higher long-term risk of developing a major cardiovascular problem, a large new analysis suggests.
The Harvard-led study, published online Nov. 16, 2022, by the Journal of the American Heart Association, tracked more than 200,000 American adults — none of whom had ever had a stroke or coronary artery disease — for up to 16 years.
Using questionnaires, researchers collected information on shingles, stroke, and heart disease among participants every two years, confirming any diagnoses with medical records.
Those who’d had shingles (a reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox) had a higher risk of a stroke or coronary artery disease compared with participants who had not had shingles. The elevated risk for stroke persisted for 12 years or longer after the shingles episode.
Much of the study’s data was collected before shingles vaccines became widely available. But even after that point, many people eligible for the vaccine — who include adults 50 and older — do not receive it, study authors said.
They recommended getting vaccinated against shingles to lower the chances of developing not just the painful rash, but also the possible long-term cardiovascular effects.
Harvard Health Publishing