Shingles May Raise Risk of Stroke
Study Shows Shingles Patients 30% More Likely to Suffer a Stroke
WebMD News Archive
Stress, Inflammation May Play Role
Varicella zoster virus-related blood vessel damage has been linked to stroke
after shingles attacks, but this did not fully explain the high stroke risk
seen in the study, Kang and colleagues wrote.
They added that the stress associated with shingles and the intense pain
that can occur with outbreaks and following them could play a role, as could
the inflammation that occurs with shingles outbreaks.
American Stroke Association spokesman Daniel Lackland, MD, says shingles
patients and their doctors need to be aware of the new research.
Lackland is a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Medical
University of South Carolina in Charleston.
"This research needs to be confirmed, but it may be that shingles patients
with risk factors for stroke need more aggressive monitoring and treatment than
the average patient," he tells WebMD.
But he adds that the shingles-related stroke risk identified in the study is
nowhere near as great as the risk associated with better-established stroke
risk factors, like high blood pressure.
"The message doesn't change based on this study," he says. "Getting high
blood pressure under control and treating other modifiable risk factors is what
we have to focus on."
Early, aggressive treatment with antiviral drugs can lessen the length and
severity of shingles attacks.
Kang says it remains to be seen if aggressive antiviral treatment can also
lower stroke risk.
"This is a question we need to study," he says.