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Shingles an Independent Predictor of Vascular Disease — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 3, 2014

Shingles an Independent Predictor of Vascular Disease

By Amy Orciari Herman

People who experience herpes zoster (HZ), especially in young adulthood, face increased risks for transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, and myocardial infarction (MI), according to a retrospective study in Neurology.

Using a U.K. general practice database, researchers matched some 105,000 zoster cases with 210,000 controls. Vascular events were recorded for up to 24 years after zoster occurrence.

After adjustment for vascular risk factors, herpes zoster was associated with significantly increased risks for TIA and MI but not stroke. In analyses limited to zoster before age 40, risk increases were significant for TIA (hazard ratio, 2.4), MI (HR, 1.5), and stroke (HR, 1.7).

The researchers suggest that the herpes zoster vaccine be offered to adults with risk factors for vascular disease, "irrespective of age, to reduce the associated risk of HZ." They also advocate screening for vascular risk factors in patients with zoster, particularly younger adults "in whom intervention may have the most impact."

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