Study finds increased risk of stroke following shingles, suggests antiviral treatment may
Patients' risk of stroke significantly increased following the first signs of shingles, but antiviral drugs appeared to offer some protection, according to a new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.
People with shingles, an often painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, had a higher stroke risk in the first 6 months after shingles symptoms appeared; this risk was particularly increased in patients with a rash near their eyes, the study found.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a significant public health problem, affecting an estimated 1 million adults in the U.S. and nearly 90,000 in the U.K. each year. The disease develops when the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox in children and then remains dormant in the body, reactivates later in life.
Sinéad Langan, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine identified patients with first-ever incidents of shingles and stroke, and also examined antiviral treatment records for shingles, drawing from a database of information from patients across 600 general practices in the U.K.
Researchers compared the risk of stroke in the time period after the patient had shingles to time periods when the patient did not have recent shingles. Among the 6,584 patients included in the study, the stroke rate was 63 percent higher in the first four weeks after a shingles episode compared to the patient's baseline risk, diminishing slowly up to 6 months later. The stroke risk increased up to three-fold for a short period of time among those with a shingles rash affecting the skin around their eyes, compared to baseline risk.
In patients treated with oral antiviral medication for their shingles—55 percent of study participants—the risk of stroke was lower than in those not treated with antivirals. "The relatively low prescribing rates of antiviral therapy in U.K. general practice after developing shingles need to be improved," Dr. Langan said, "as our study suggests that stroke risks following shingles are lower in those treated with oral antiviral therapy compared to individuals not treated with antiviral therapy."
The findings also highlight the importance of vaccinating older adults against shingles, which can reduce the risk of developing the painful condition in the first place. A shingles vaccine is available and recommended for adults over 60 in the U.S. and for those in their 70s in the U.K.
In a related editorial, Maria A. Nagel, MD, and Donald H. Gilden, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, noted that the findings confirm previous studies of shingles and stroke risk from Taiwan, Denmark, and the U.K. This latest study is "the first to show that the increased risk of stroke after zoster can be reduced with antiviral treatment," they wrote.
Editor's note: The research was funded by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Stroke Association. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the funders, the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), or the U.K. Department of Health.
1. An often painful skin rash, shingles (herpes zoster) affects an estimated 1 million adults in the U.S. and nearly 90,000 in the U.K. each year.
2. People with shingles, particularly those with a rash near their eyes, had a higher stroke risk in the first 6 months after their symptoms appeared, this study found.
3. Antiviral treatment for shingles appeared to lower this increased risk of stroke.
Clinical Infectious Diseases is a leading journal in the field of infectious disease with a broad international readership. The journal publishes articles on a variety of subjects of interest to practitioners and researchers. Topics range from clinical descriptions of infections, public health, microbiology, and immunology to the prevention of infection, the evaluation of current and novel treatments, and the promotion of optimal practices for diagnosis and treatment. The journal publishes original research, editorial commentaries, review articles, and practice guidelines and is among the most highly cited journals in the field of infectious diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases is an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Based in Arlington, Va., IDSA is a professional society representing nearly 10,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. For more information, visit http://www.idsociety.org. Follow IDSA on Facebook and Twitter.
Matt Sobczak | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences