Atlanta Hyperbaric treats stroke patients regularly. So, when I come across interesting new information about strokes, I’ll pass it along.
Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a familiar disease that mostly occurs in the elderly, but not always. In fact, I’ve deliberately shown a picture of a child with herpes zoster, just to illustrate that people of all ages get the disease. Zoster is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The typical elderly patient who gets zoster had an attack of chickenpox as a child, the virus stayed dormant for years and then returned as an attack of zoster decades later. Patients with diseases of immunodeficiency get zoster at high rates. Zoster is usually quite painful and I have often been struck by complaints of severe allodynia, or pain from light touch, such as slight rubbing by a garment. The illustration shows a typical dermatomal distribution, i.e., along the path of a nerve root from the spine.
A medical group at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan recently reported that patients who had shingles were 31% more likely to suffer a stroke in the next year than a random control group. Further analysis of the data showed that the zoster patients differed from the controls with a higher incidence of hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, renal disease, heart failure, and carotid/peripheral vascular disease. The researchers gave several possible explanations for their findings including the possibility that the higher frequency of cardiovascular risk factors among the patients with zoster, suggested that the presence of the herpes virus might accelerate atherosclerosis development.