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Shingles raises the risk of both TIA and myocardial infarction

Shingles is an independent risk factor for both transient ischaemic attack and MI, according to a UK study published in Neurology.

The researchers claim this may mean herpes zoster vaccination could protect against vascular events.

They used The Health Improvement Network (THIN) primary care database to analyse data on 106,601 cases of shingles as well as 213,202 controls who had no record of shingles and were matched for age, sex, and general practice.

The study showed a 15% increased risk for TIA and a 10% increased risk for MI associated with herpes zoster, after adjustment for sex, age, obesity, smoking status, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, intermittent arterial claudication, carotid stenosis, and valvular heart disease.

TIA itself was a risk factor for stroke, increasing the incidence 7-fold compared with age-matched controls (14.32% vs 2.07%) but although there was a numerical increase in the number of strokes it was not statistically significant.

The researchers, from the Institute of Neurology, University College London say that although it’s not clear whether vaccination can prevent vascular events it is a possibility.

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