Shingles may raise heart attack risk

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People who develop the painful, blistering rash known as shingles may be more susceptible to a heart attack, according to a study in the July 11, 2017, Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Also known as herpes zoster, shingles results from a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox, which most adults had during childhood.

Researchers relied on a Korean health database to identify people newly diagnosed with shingles, stroke, or heart attack over 10 years. Among the nearly 520,000 people they followed for that period, just over 23,000 were diagnosed with shingles, whom they compared with a similar number of people without shingles. People who'd had shingles had a 59% higher risk of later having a heart attack and a 35% higher risk of having a stroke compared with people who did not have shingles. The risk was highest during the first year after the onset of shingles and then diminished over time.

About one in three people in the United States will develop shingles at some point. The CDC recommends that most people ages 60 and older get a shingles vaccine, even if you've had shingles before, since you can get it more than once. The vaccine cuts the risk of shingles by half.