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Herpes zoster is linked to increased rates of both stroke and myocardial infarction

Date:
December 15, 2015
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
Herpes zoster (also called 'shingles') is linked to a transient increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction in the months following initial zoster diagnosis, according to a new study.
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Herpes zoster (also called "shingles") is linked to a transient increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) in the months following initial zoster diagnosis, according to a study published by Caroline Minassian and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The researchers identified 42,954 Medicare beneficiaries aged ?65 years who had had a herpes zoster diagnosis and an ischemic stroke and 24,237 beneficiaries who had had a herpes zoster diagnosis and an MI during a 5-year period. They then calculated age-adjusted incidence ratios for stroke and MI during pre-defined periods up to 12 months after a diagnosis of zoster relative to time periods when the patient did not have recent zoster (the baseline period). Compared to the baseline period, there was a 2.4-fold increased rate of ischemic stroke and a 1.7-fold increased rate of MI in the first week after herpes zoster. The increased rate of acute cardiovascular events reduced gradually over the 6 months following herpes zoster. There was no evidence that MI or ischemic stroke incidence ratios varied between individuals who had been vaccinated against zoster and those who had not been vaccinated.

While the researchers used a self-controlled case series design that controls for fixed confounders, residual confounding by time-varying factors such as major life events or stress may limit the accuracy of the findings. Furthermore, only a few participants in the study were vaccinated, which limits the study's power to detect an effect of vaccination.

The authors say "These findings enhance our understanding of the temporality and magnitude of the association between zoster and acute cardiovascular events."


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Materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Caroline Minassian, Sara L. Thomas, Liam Smeeth, Ian Douglas, Ruth Brauer, Sinéad M. Langan. Acute Cardiovascular Events after Herpes Zoster: A Self-Controlled Case Series Analysis in Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Older Residents of the United States. PLOS Medicine, 2015; 12 (12): e1001919 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001919

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Herpes zoster is linked to increased rates of both stroke and myocardial infarction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151215160438.htm>.
PLOS. (2015, December 15). Herpes zoster is linked to increased rates of both stroke and myocardial infarction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151215160438.htm
PLOS. "Herpes zoster is linked to increased rates of both stroke and myocardial infarction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151215160438.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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