“Varicella zoster virus (VZV) vasculopathy is caused by productive virus infection in cerebral arteries where accumulation of myofibroblasts in the arterial intima and loss of smooth muscle cells result in ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.” – Maria A. Nagel
In a study from the Journal of Neurovirology it was found that “Virological confirmation of varicella zoster virus (VZV) vasculopathy is provided by presence of virus in the cerebral arteries. Thus, the presence of VZV antigen in cerebral arteries of patients with stroke is likely to be clinically significant.”(1)
In simple terms this means that the connection between the herpes zoster virus and suffering a stroke is very important.
Another study also reported that a herpes zoster attack lowers the survival rate. (2)
This is important information since, “…1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster.” (3) In fact, anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk for developing herpes zoster. Even children can develop this affliction after a case of chickenpox. However, “the risk of disease increases as a person gets older” (3) as does the risk of suffering a debilitating stroke.
The public, especially those over the age of 65, should be aware of the dangers and risks of a herpes zoster attack.
Currently, doctors only prescribe blood platelet inhibitors such as Aspirin, Dipyridamole, Ticlopidine, Clopidogrel and Sulfinpyrazone to reduce the risk of stroke. (5) However, these are for thinning the blood and are used to help prevent blood clots from forming inside arteries in the brain.
These drugs do nothing against the herpes zoster virus.
Thus, more funding for newer, safe and effective antiviral treatments against VZV should be allocated by government agencies, such as the NIH toward research in this area.