December 2, 2022

Herpes zoster (HZ) is associated with an elevated long-term risk for a cardiovascular event, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sharon G. Curhan, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the longitudinal association of HZ and long-term risk for stroke or coronary heart disease (CHD) among 79,658 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), 93,932 women in the NHS II, and 31,440 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

The researchers found that 3,603 incident stroke and 8,620 incident CHD cases were documented during >2 million person-years of follow-up. There was a significant and independent association observed for history of HZ with higher long-term risk for stroke and CHD. Compared with those with no history of HZ, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) for stroke were 1.05 (0.88 to 1.25), 1.38 (1.10 to 1.74), 1.28 (1.03 to 1.59), and 1.19 (0.90 to 1.56) among those with one to four, five to eight, nine to 12, and 13 or more years since HZ, respectively. The corresponding multivariableadjus ted hazard ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) for CHD were 1.13 (1.01 to 1.27), 1.16 (1.02 to 1.32), 1.25 (1.07 to 1.46), and 1.00 (0.83 to 1.12) for one to four, five to eight, nine to 12, and 13 or more years since HZ.

“These findings suggest there are longterm implications of HZ and underscore the importance of public health efforts for prevention,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, including GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, which partially funded the study.