Diseases & Conditions

Shingles linked with higher risk for heart disease and stroke

Research we’re watching

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

People who’ve had shingles have a higher long-term risk of developing a major cardiovascular problem, a large new analysis suggests.

The Harvard-led study, published online Nov. 16, 2022, by the Journal of the American Heart Association, tracked more than 200,000 American adults — none of whom had ever had a stroke or coronary artery disease — for up to 16 years. Using questionnaires, researchers collected information on shingles, stroke, and heart disease among participants every two years, confirming any diagnoses with medical records. Those who’d had shingles (a reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox) had a higher risk of a stroke or coronary artery disease compared with participants who had not had shingles. The elevated risk for stroke persisted for 12 years or longer after the shingles episode.

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About the Author

photo of Maureen Salamon

Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Maureen Salamon is executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later covered health and medicine for a wide variety of websites, magazines, and hospitals. Her work has … See Full Bio
View all posts by Maureen Salamon

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