Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can herpes cause heart disease?"
I'm a woman and I'm 38. I was diagnosed with herpes when I was 29, and I'm wondering about the long-term effects on my health. In particular, my family has heart disease ? can herpes cause that, or exacerbate it? What about other problems?
The short answer is that your herpes infection will probably not have any effect on your heart. Genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. It resides in the nerve cells and produces painful ulcers that tend to appear during times of stress or when the immune system is run down for some other reason. There are multiple causes of heart disease the most common of which are coronary artery disease (blockages), and heart failure. If you have a family history of coronary artery disease and heart attacks, then you will need to take measures later in life to reduce these risks. The main contributors to this disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and lack of exercise. There are major complications of herpes infections that usually only occur in patients with severely impaired immune systems. Herpes infections in the brain or blood stream can be deadly, but are very rare. If you are concerned about heart disease, then I suggest that you discuss the proper measures that can be taken with your primary care physician to insure that you reduce your risk. Likely, there will be little aside from blood pressure control and maintaining a healthy weight that you will need to worry about right now.
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