According to The Huffington Post, developing shingles may increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the culprit behind chickenpox. WebMD reports that the virus stays dormant in a person’s body after recuperating from the pox, but it is awakened in some people due to stress, aging, and a weakened immune system.

Researchers from the University of London analyzed data on 106,600 people who have had shingles and 213,200 who never developed the disease. After monitoring the participants’ health records for six years, they found that shingles was linked to a higher risk of heart attack.

Those who had it before reaching their 40s had a “74 percent higher risk of stroke, a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack, and a 2.4 times higher risk of transient ischemic attack (a warning sign for stroke).” Older adults also had an increased their risk, but not as high as those below 40.

A vaccination for shingles is currently available. However, researchers are yet to find out if this could reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke.

(Photo by skoglund1957 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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