Roundup: Shingles Tied to Heart Attack and Stroke; Too Much Sugar During Pregnancy Linked to Child Allergies

Beyond the pain, itchiness and red splotches are other dangerous effects of shingles. People who get shingles are at higher risk of having a heart attack and stroke, according to a recent study conducted by a team of South Korean researchers.

The researchers followed a group of 23,000 patients for 10 years and noted the risk factors for heart and stroke that they had in common. The shingles patients tended to be older, have high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Shingles is an infection of the nerves. Triggered by the chickenpox virus resurfacing in the body, shingles causes painful sores or blisters on the skin.

Conclusions of the study, which published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicate that having shingles:

  • Increased the risk of heart attack by 59 percent;
  • Increased the risk of stroke by 35 percent and;
  • Increased the risk of experiencing both by 41 percent.

The risk for having a stroke or heart attack was highest within the first year of having the first signs of shingles, the researchers found.

One out of three people in the U.S. will develop shingles in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People older than 50 and those who have weakened immune systems have a greater chance in getting the virus. In addition, the South Korean researchers found women are more likely to get shingles than men.

To prevent shingles, vaccination is recommended. The vaccine is advised for healthy adults age 60 or older.

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Too Much Sugar During Pregnancy Linked to Child Allergies

The evils of too much “added sugars” in the diet is well chronicled, but can an expectant mom’s sweeth tooth cause problems for her child after birth?

A new study finds that women who consume too many sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy could be increasing their child’s risk of developing an allergy or allergic asthma.

Researchers compared the children of women who ate the least amount of sugar during pregnancy — less than 34 grams, or 7 teaspoons, per day — with the children of those who consumer the most — between 82 and 345 grams, or 16 and 69 teaspoons, per day. The children of women with highest sugar intake during pregnancy had a 38 percent higher risk of allergy diagnosis, the researchers calculated in the study published Thursday in the European Respiratory Journal.

Among the children of women in the group with the highest intake of sugar, there was a 73 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with an allergy to two or more allergens.

Moreover, the allergic asthma risk surged by 101 percent for children of mothers in the high-sugar consumption group.

The researchers looked at allergies that produce respiratory and skin symptoms, including dust mites, cats and grass. “Allergic asthma” causes breathing problems, like wheezing and coughing, in the presence of allergens such as dust.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London based their findings on data from nearly 9,000 mother-child pairs that are part of a separate, ongoing research project tracking the health of families over nearly three decades.

Globally, sensitivity rates to one or more common allergens among school children are now approaching 40 percent to 50 percent, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

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