Shingles associated with increased risks for cardiovascular disease

A man prepares to receive a vaccine from a healthcare worker in a medical setting.

After analyzing data from more than 200,000 adults, researchers found those who had shingles had a nearly 30% increased associated risk for experiencing a future cardiovascular event, such a heart attack or stroke. The research was partially supported by NHLBI and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. The difference is that the virus can become reactivated years later and emerge as shingles. Shingles affects about one in three adults who have had chickenpox and may appear as a painful rash that occurs on one side of the face or body. It typically scabs over and clears within 2-4 weeks. Based on these findings, the researchers emphasize the importance of prevention, including adults ages 50 and older staying up to date on shingles vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that while most adults ages 43 and older have had chickenpox, vaccines, which were introduced in 1995, have now made it a rare occurrence. Shingles vaccines are currently recommended for adults ages 50 and older and for adults ages 19 and older with compromised immune function.