Shingles infections are very painful. They may also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in the weeks after an outbreak, a new study reports. Researchers analyzed the records of 61,191 Medicare recipients with a shingles diagnosis and a heart attack or a stroke from 2006 through 2011, comparing rates of cardiovascular events before and after a shingles attack. They found that in the first week after diagnosis, there was a 2.4-fold increase in the rate of stroke and a 1.7-fold increase in the rate of heart attack. The difference faded over six months. The findings were published in PLOS Medicine.

Gaunt models benched?

Fashion models should be benched if they are dangerously thin, and U.S. regulators should make sure this happens. So says a provocative editorial published Monday in the American Journal of Public Health. The authors, both experts on eating disorders affiliated with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, argue that fashion models are just as deserving of protection as coal miners and garment factory workers. Instead of being vulnerable to black lung, models are at risk of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is the deadliest of all mental illnesses in the U.S.

Cardiac arrest warnings

Sudden cardiac arrest may not always be so sudden: Research suggests a lot of people may ignore potentially lifesaving warning signs hours, days, even a few weeks before they collapse. CPR can buy critical time, but so few patients survive that it has been hard to tell if the longtime medical belief is correct that it’s a strike with little or no advance warning. A study in Portland, Ore., found that about half of middle-aged patients for whom symptom information could be found had experienced warning signs, mostly chest pain or shortness of breath, in the month before cardiac arrest, researchers said.

Gay blood donors OK’d

The nation’s three-decade-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men was formally lifted Monday, but major restrictions will continue to limit who can give blood. The Food and Drug Administration said it is replacing the lifetime ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year. While the one-year ban has been criticized by activists it matches policies in other countries, including Australia, Japan and the U.K. The FDA enacted the lifetime ban in 1983, early in the AIDS epidemic.

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