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Herpes Zoster Increases the Risk of Stroke and MI

Dec 15, 2015 2:27 pm

At the 2015 ACR annual meeting in San Francisco, Len Calabrese, DO, of the Cleveland Clinic, gave a plenary session talk linking "shingles" infection to an increased risk of CVA (see video).

These findings are underscored by a recent report from PLOS. Dr. Caroline Minassian and UK colleagues assessed the short-term increased risk of stroke and MI after zoster by examining 42,954 Medicare patiennts over age 65 years who had a shingles diagnosis and an ischemic stroke, and 24,237 patients with H. zoster and MI during a 5-year period.

Those infected with H. zoster had a 2.4 fold higher risk of an ischemic stroke and 1.7 times higher chance of MI in the first week after herpes zoster infection. This risk gradually decreased over time.

Vaccination against H. zoster did not effect the risks of ischemic stroke or MI.

These findings are important as 1 in 3 individuals in the general population will have a H. zoster in their lifetime, and the risk rises considerably after age 60 years.

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