Herpes Zoster Risk Tied to COPD

Risk of herpes zoster also increases with the use of steroids, particularly oral corticosteroids

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially those using oral steroids, are at increased risk of developing herpes zoster, according to a study published online Feb. 22 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Ya-Wen Yang, M.D., from the Taipei Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues analyzed data from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database to determine if COPD predisposes patients to developing herpes zoster. The researchers divided 8,486 patients with COPD into one of three groups according to steroid medication use. The results were compared to 33,944 control patients.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for confounding factors, COPD patients were more likely to have occurrences of herpes zoster (hazard ratio [HR], 1.68) than the controls. The researchers also found that COPD patients who were not using steroid medications had the lowest risk for developing herpes zoster (HR, 1.67). This risk increased in COPD patients who used only inhaled corticosteroids (HR, 2.09); however, COPD patients treated with oral steroids had the highest risk of developing the disease (HR, 3.00).

"COPD was associated with an increased risk of herpes zoster relative to that in the general population," the authors write. "To prevent the substantial morbidity ensuing from this vexing disease, it is recommended that patients with COPD receive zoster vaccination."

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