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Another reason to get the shingles vaccine ASAP

Remember when you were a child and got chickenpox? 

It was no big deal.

In my case, I got lots of ice cream, watched a ton of TV, and got to stay home from school for a week or so until I recovered.  I wasn’t very sick and had a lot of fun at home playing with toys and generally bothering my Mom.  

And, until recently, I thought that my 4th-grade chickenpox-induced vacation was the end of the story. 

I assumed if I got shingles it was no big deal, like when I was a child.  I had been told that shingles were just the adult version of chickenpox and nothing to worry about.  

As it turns out, I was wrong, very wrong. 

Shingles Are A Huge Deal

According to newly published research, shingles are a huge deal and lead to approximately a 30% increase in stroke and heart attack risk for more than a decade after getting sick.  

Research suggests that the increased risk of stroke and heart attack lasts for more than 12 years.  

Picture of a cartoon man showing shingles on his back and along his rib cage.

Why is that?  How is it possible that the reason for my childhood school vacation can now kill me 55 years later?  

Researchers aren’t sure why shingles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Still, they suspect that it is because shingles reproduce in human arteries (all types of arteries, large and small) and, in the process of spreading throughout the body, damages blood vessels. 

Shingles are the only known virus that replicates in arteries and therefore is unique among human diseases. 

What you need to know…

There are three things you need to know about shingles…

  1. Shingles is a serious adult disease that is more than just an inconvenience (or a painful inconvenience).  
  2. If you have had shingles, you have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.  You need to adjust your lifestyle, exercise program, and healthcare appropriately.  
  3. Regardless of whether or not you have had shingles, get the vaccine!!!  The shingles vaccine is no big deal (I recently got my first shot with no side effects) and it will most likely prevent shingles (or a reoccurrence of shingles) and potentially save your life. 

If you want to read more about this new shingles research, click here to access a Medical News Today article on this topic.

Mark Sunshine

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