Patients who have a history of herpes zoster may have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, according to findings published in a research letter.
Researchers in South Korea reviewed the National Health Insurance Service’s database to find patients who were newly diagnosed with shingles, heart attack and stroke. From 2003-2013, there were 23,233 cases of shingles among a total of 519,880 patients.1
Patients with a history of herpes zoster had a 35 percent increased risk of stroke and 59 percent increased risk of heart attack. Stroke risk was highest among patients who were under age 40. The researchers found that risks for heart attack and stroke were highest during the first year after onset of herpes zoster, and decreased over time. The risks were evenly distributed among the shingles-free control group, however.
“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,” researcher Sung-Han Kim, M.D., Ph.D., said in the research letter.
The research letter was published July 3 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.2
1. American College of Cardiology, “Does Shingles Increase the Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke?,” news release, July 3, 2017.
2. Kim M-C, Yun S-C, Lee H-B, et al, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017;70(2).