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Infection After Chicken Pox Can Increase Your Risk Of Stroke

Shingles, an infection that causes shooting pain and blisters on the torso can increase your chance of getting a cardiovascular disease by more than 40%

Infection After Chicken Pox Can Increase Your Risk Of Stroke

Chickenpox & shingles can be prevented with vaccination & heart diseases with simple lifestyle change

While it may seem so, sometimes you are not completely cured of a disease even after the treatment is successfully over. We aren't talking about cancer here but a disease considered a thing of the past now, thankfully because of the widespread vaccination movement in India. Chickenpox is a contagious viral infection that causes itchy red blisters over the skin. While it's often children between 1-16 years who catch this diseases, it's after effects can linger till even when you're over 60. One particular infection that affects people who have been contaminated with chickenpox is Shingles. This painful rash is like a reactivation of chickenpox in the body and causes blisters on the torso.

Bigger Cause of Worry

Scientists at the Asan Medical Centre in Seoul, South Korea have found that people who have developed shingles have a 40% greater chance of getting a stroke or heart attack.

The study was based on a medical database of 519,880 patients whose records were tracked from 2003-2013 and the results were compared with the same number of patients who didn't get shingles.

People who got shingles were more likely to be female and have common heart risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and older age, the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found. Surprisingly, these were also the people who smoked less and drank lesser alcohol.

The risk of heart attack was found to be higher in people below 40 years of age. Particularly, the risk of stroke was 35% higher and heart attack 59% higher for people who developed shingles than those who didn't.

Lead author of the study, Sung-Han Kim, a physician in the department of infectious diseases at Asan Medical Centre in Seoul, says "While these findings require further study into the mechanism that causes shingles patients to have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, it is important that physicians treating these patients make them aware of their increased risk."

Validating the study, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chair of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has said that they had suspected an interplay between inflammation and blood clotting. To explain the relation between shingles and heart diseases, he mentions how the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles can travel through the skin and infect the blood vessels, inflaming them. This can then cause the blood to clot and so lead to heart attack or a stroke. This inflammation is what manifests as shooting pain and blisters. "There's no definitive proof of the relationship between inflammation and clotting, but the evidence is growing and it's very intriguing," Schwamm said.

Doctors and researchers across Boston and South Korea suggest that vaccination should be a top priority for people. Both chickenpox vaccine for kids and shingles vaccines for adults should be encouraged, even for patients who already had shingles once and patients with shingles should make regular visit to the doctor to detect any signs of cardiovascular diseases.


While there are no major shortcomings of the study, there may be possible difference in the study population of the two groups that went unnoticed and in the severity of the shingles.

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(Inputs from AFP and Reuters)


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