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Herpes Zoster Infection May Increase Risk of Stroke

Last Updated: October 09, 2009.

The risk of stroke is higher in people who have had a herpes zoster infection than in those with no history of the disease, according to a study published online Oct. 8 in Stroke.

FRIDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of stroke is higher in people who have had a herpes zoster infection than in those with no history of the disease, according to a study published online Oct. 8 in Stroke.

Jiunn-Horng Kang, M.D., of Taipei Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a study of 7,760 patients who were treated for herpes zoster and 23,280 randomly selected controls. The researchers estimated the one-year stroke-free survival rate.

In all, 439 (1.41 percent) of the patients had a stroke during the follow-up period, of whom 133 were herpes zoster patients (representing 1.71 percent of the total herpes zoster patients), and 306 were controls (1.31 percent of the controls), the researchers found. One-year stroke-free survival rates after stroke were lower among the herpes zoster group than the control group, and the adjusted hazard ratios for stroke were 1.31 after herpes zoster and 4.28 after herpes zoster ophthalmicus.

"To our knowledge, this is the first attempt at investigating epidemiological data on strokes after zoster attacks in a large nationwide population-based study," the authors write. "We confirmed that in the general population, the risk for stroke increased after a zoster attack and additionally found that strokes after such attacks were more frequent than expected. Further studies should be conducted to explore the underlying pathomechanisms and intervention strategies for patients experiencing herpes zoster attacks."

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