Shingles is claimed to be a viral infection of the nerve roots. Ocular shingles is said to be an infection of the eye and the skin around the eye supposedly due to the same virus that apparently causes chickenpox. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of all people with shingles seem to suffer from ocular shingles. A study claims that suffering from shingles infections which affects the eye could augment the threat of stroke.

The study included around 658 people identified with ocular shingles and 1974 devoid of the infection. Apparently, none of these people appeared to have any history of stroke at the start of the study. During the one-year study, stroke supposedly developed in around 8.1 percent of the people with shingles and around 1.7 percent of the people devoid of shingles.

The study discovered that people with shingles appeared to have four-and-a-half times more chances to have a stroke as opposed to people with no shingles. The outcomes were the said to be the same, irrespective of age, gender, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and medications.

Jau-Der Ho, MD, PhD, with Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, commented, “Shingles may represent a marker for increased risk of stroke.”

The study also seem to have discovered that people suffering from shingles were apparently more likely to have ischemic stroke like a blood clot, and less likely to have hemorrhagic stroke, such as bleeding in the brain, as opposed to people devoid of shingles.

Gustavo A. Ortiz, MD, with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study and is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, mentioned, “As we face an aging population with increased risk factors for stroke, the results of this study reinforce the importance of preventing stroke in older people who develop shingles.”

Antiviral drugs are believed to be used to treat ocular shingles. The study authors apparently discovered that there seemed to be no dissimilarity in the threat of stroke between people who were given antiviral drugs and those who were not.

Ortiz is of the opinion that more studies are required since the study did not account for stroke threat issues like cigarette smoking. Moreover, the outcomes are believed to be based on people in Taiwan, and there could be differences in stroke risk as opposed to other populations.

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.