Risk of Stroke/Transient Ischemic Attack or Myocardial Infarction with Herpes Zoster: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


      Accumulating evidence indicates that herpes zoster (HZ) may increase the risk of stroke/transient ischemic attack (TIA) or myocardial infarction (MI), but the results are inconsistent. We aim to explore the relationship between HZ and risk of stroke/TIA or MI and between herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) and stroke.


      We estimated the relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) with the meta-analysis. Cochran's Q test and Higgins I2 statistic were used to check for heterogeneity.


      HZ infection was significantly associated with increased risk of stroke/TIA (RR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.17-1.46) or MI (RR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.07-1.30). The risk of stroke after HZO was 1.91 (95% CI 1.32-2.76), higher than that after HZ. Subgroup analyses revealed increased risk of ischemic stroke after HZ infection but not hemorrhagic stroke. The risk of stroke was increased more at 1 month after HZ infection than at 1-3 months, with a gradual reduced risk with time. The risk of stroke after HZ infection was greater with age less than 40 years than 40-59 years and more than 60 years. Risk of stroke with HZ infection was greater without treatment than with treatment and was greater in Asia than Europe and America but did not differ by sex.


      Our study indicated that HZ infection was associated with increased risk of stroke/TIA or MI, and HZO infection was the most marked risk factor for stroke. Further studies are needed to explore whether zoster vaccination could reduce the risk of stoke/TIA or MI.

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