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How Shingles Increases the Risk of Stroke

Though it is often seen as painful and unpleasant, shingles is not really a life-threatening condition. However, new research suggests that shingles increases the risk of a stroke. For an elderly person who has already experienced a stroke, getting shingles can make a stroke even more likely. Caregivers in The Grand Strand explain this correlation and what you can do to reduce your loved one’s risk.

How Do You Get Shingles?

A person can only get shingles if they have previously had chickenpox. The virus that causes chickenpox is called varicella-zoster virus and once a person has been infected with it, the virus can remain inactive in nerve tissue for many years. Later, it may become active again and travel to the skin where it becomes a painful rash known as shingles. Shingles is very common later in life, as around half of all people over the age of 85 have had shingles.

What Is the Link Between Shingles and Strokes?

A study by Dr. Minassian was recently published in the PLOS Medicine Journal that identified a risk for stroke after having shingles. In the study, 351,865 people over the age of 65 who had both shingles and strokes were studied. According to the data, the risk for an ischemic stroke doubled in the first week after a person was diagnosed and the risk for a myocardial infarction increased by 1.5 times in the same time period. The risk lessened significantly after six months of the shingles diagnosis. Doctors believe that the inflammation caused by the virus can cause an arterial thrombosis and that the blood pressure rise from the pain of shingles may also increase stroke risk.

How Can You Decrease Your Love One’s Risk?

There are two vaccines that can help to prevent shingles. In the study, 98 percent of the research subjects were unvaccinated. These vaccines greatly reduce a person’s risk of getting shingles, and therefore, it may decrease the risk of a shingles-related stroke.

Vaccines and safety monitoring are important factors for safeguarding your loved one against shingles and stroke risk. You may not be able to look after your senior loved one 24/7, which is why Home Care Assistance can help. We are a trusted provider of at-home care The Grand Strand families rely on to ensure senior safety and promote overall wellbeing. Whether you need us for a few hours a day or on a live-in basis, we can offer your loved one help with personal care and housekeeping in addition to companionship. To learn more about our care services, call us today at (843) 353-3105 and schedule a free consultation with a friendly Care Manager.