Shingles are caused when the dormant Chickenpox virus reactivates. The result is an excruciatingly painful rash that causes inflammation of the underlying nerve tracks. This condition tends to develop at the most inopportune times such as during periods of stress and illness. It can last for weeks to months and may recur at any time in our life. And if all of that isn’t bad enough, research now shows a link between shingles and a significantly increased incidence of heart attack and stroke.
The Study Findings
A massive, decade-long study of more than half a million individuals linked a history of shingles with increased risk of stroke and heart attack. The findings from this research letter were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The retrospective study used a database from South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service to examine 519,880 patients from 2003 to 2013.
The team, led by Sung-Han Kim, MD, PhD, with Asan Medical Center in Seoul, identified a group of patients with shingles who were then matched to control patients that never had symptoms of shingles.
The findings were alarming. Patients with history of shingles had a greater risk of cardiovascular events by 41 percent. These patients were at a 59 percent more likely to have an acute myocardial infarction and the risk of stroke increased 35 percent.
Risks were higher for those patients over 40 years old. Additionally, risks for both stroke and heart attack were higher in the first year following a shingles’ outbreak.
Incidence of Shingles in the American Population
According to the CDC, almost one out of every three people in the US will develop shingles in their lifetime. It is well known that anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles; however, the risk of shingles increases as a person gets older. This is especially concerning given the rate at which the US and world population is aging.
“…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,” wrote Dr. Kim
Questions Going Forward
Should a patient’s positive history of shingles inform their care going forward? Should this be considered a marker in a larger risk-factor profile? Are there indications for shingles vaccines as a protective measure for those with a history of Chickenpox. These are all questions all worthy of further debate. Let us know what you think.
Our strategy focuses on enabling our clients to recruit the right people for the structure in which they will perform. Please contact us to learn more about our expertise in Executive Search for Commercial Leadership positions in Medical Device and Biotechnology; including Marketing, Strategy, Sales Leadership, Training, Development, etc. We look forward to the opportunity to help you consistently improve your performance and your business!
Follow me on Twitter @PrimeCoreSearch.