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Understanding the Risk of Stroke After a Shingles Breakout

By Lee Nyberg, 9:00 am on

Shingles is a very common medical condition that occurs later in life. Roughly half of all people have had shingles by the time they reach the age of 85. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an individual has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body and can later reactivate in skin cells resulting in a painful rash along the skin. New evidence shows that in the days following a shingles outbreak, seniors are at greater risk of stroke. Providers of Omaha live-in care explain this correlation and how your senior loved one can reduce the risk.

Does Having Shingles Increase Stroke Risk?

According to a study conducted by Dr. Sinead Langan for the Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal, having shingles increases stroke risk. In the month following a shingles diagnosis, senior stroke risk increases by 63 percent. If the shingles rash breaks out around their eyes, seniors are even more likely to experience stroke. This can be problematic for seniors if they already require post-stroke care in Omaha.

Why Is Shingles Linked to Stroke Risk?

Currently doctors are not certain how shingles and stroke are related. However, it is quite likely that inflammation from the virus may cause arterial plaques to rupture, clogging blood vessels and causing strokes. The virus cells can also infect the cells of blood vessels, thus weakening them and increasing their likelihood of clogging. The pain of shingles may also increase blood pressure, further increasing stroke risks for seniors.

How Can Seniors Reduce This Risk?

The only way to reduce your loved one’s risk of having a stroke after a shingles outbreak is to avoid getting chickenpox altogether. Getting a chickenpox vaccination will prevent your senior loved one from developing shingles later in life. However, if your loved one does experience a shingles outbreak, Dr. Langan found that administering oral antiviral medications treat shingles and greatly reduces the risk of a subsequent stroke.

When seniors experience a stroke, live-in or even hourly in-home care in Omaha will help seniors recover in the comfort of home. To help your loved one receive the optimal home care he or she deserves, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Omaha. We are a leading provider of in-home stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s care to help seniors manage their symptoms and enhance overall wellbeing. Whether your loved one needs help with daily exercise, nutritious meal preparation, or personal care, our trusted caregivers will help. Call us today at (402) 763-9140 to learn more and schedule a free in-home consultation.