By Robert Preidt
The new study looked at 2003-2013 medical records for more than 23,000 people in South Korea who had shingles. The researchers also reviewed data on a similar number of people without shingles. They found the shingles group had a 59 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 35 percent higher risk of stroke than the others.
The results appear in a research letter published July 3 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The study can't prove that reactivation of the chickenpox virus raised heart attack and stroke risk. Still, the findings suggest a need for further research into this association, the researchers said.
Also, "it is important that physicians treating these patients make them aware of their increased risk," study author Dr. Sung-Han Kim said in a journal news release. Kim is a physician in infectious diseases at the Asan Medical Center in Seoul.
Patients with shingles were more likely to be female and to have risk factors for stroke and heart attack, such as old age, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, the study found. However, they were less likely to smoke, drank less alcohol, exercised more and were wealthier.