Zoster Vaccine Lowers Stroke and Myocardial Infarction Risk in Chronic Disease

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American Journal of Preventive Medicine


Introduction: Herpes zoster increases stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) risk. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of live attenuated zoster vaccination on stroke and MI risk in patients at-risk for zoster including persons with hypertension, diabetes mellites, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, and chronic liver disease.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study utilizing continuous de-identified claims data from the IBM MarketScan® Commercial Claims and Encounters Database (collected from 2005-2018) containing data for 200 million commercially insured Americans. Participants included 27,093 adults vaccinated against zoster with at least 5 years continuous enrollment, age and sex-matched 1:5 with unvaccinated controls. Odds ratios, risk difference, and number needed to treat (NNT) evaluated the effect of vaccination on stroke and MI while controlling for relevant comorbidities.

Results: Over five years, proportions of MI (1.29% vs 1.82%; p<0.05) and stroke (1.61% vs. 2.20%; p<0.05) were lower in vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals respectively, controlling for age and sex, with greatest benefit for people with diabetes (stroke OR [95% Confidence Limits] 0.64 [0.58, 0.71], MI 0.63 [0.57, 0.71]). Although hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had highest odds of stroke and MI, vaccination still provided significant risk-reduction (Hypertension: stroke 0.75 [0.68, 0.83], MI 0.73 [0.65, 0.81]; COPD: stroke 0.75 [0.68, 0.83], MI 0.74 [0.66, 0.83]).

Conclusions: Live attenuated zoster vaccination is associated with lower risk stroke and MI in adults with at-risk comorbidities, controlling for age and sex. Vaccination may provide cardiovascular benefits beyond zoster prevention.



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