Herpes Zoster and Long-Term Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Dec 6;11(23):e027451. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.027451. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


Background We investigated the longitudinal association of herpes zoster (HZ), commonly known as "shingles," and long-term risk of stroke or coronary heart disease (CHD) among participants in 3 large US cohorts, the NHS (Nurses' Health Study), NHS II (Nurses' Health Study II), and HPFS (Health Professionals Follow-Up Study). Methods and Results Participants were 79 658 women in the NHS (2000-2016), 93 932 women in the NHS II (2001-2017), and 31 440 men in the HPFS (2004-2016), without prior stroke or CHD. Information on HZ, stroke, and CHD was collected on biennial questionnaires and confirmed by medical record review. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for stroke and for CHD according to years since HZ compared with never HZ. During >2 million person-years of follow-up, 3603 incident stroke and 8620 incident CHD cases were documented. History of HZ was significantly and independently associated with higher long-term risk of stroke and CHD. In pooled analyses, compared with individuals with no history of HZ, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CIs) for stroke were 1.05 (0.88-1.25) among those with 1 to 4 years since HZ, 1.38 (1.10-1.74) for among those with 5 to 8 years since HZ, 1.28 (1.03-1.59) among those with for 9 to 12 years since HZ, and 1.19 (0.90-1.56) among those with ≥13 years since HZ. For CHD, the corresponding multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CIs) were 1.13 (1.01-1.27) for 1 to 4 years, 1.16 (1.02-1.32) for 5 to 8 years, 1.25 (1.07-1.46) for 9 to 12 years, and 1.00 (0.83-1.21) for ≥13 years. Conclusions HZ is associated with higher long-term risk of a major cardiovascular event. These findings suggest there are long-term implications of HZ and underscore the importance of prevention.

Keywords: coronary disease; follow‐up studies; herpes zoster; myocardial infarction; public health; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Herpes Zoster* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Stroke* / epidemiology