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Adult Ocular Shingles Linked to Higher Stroke Risk

Study finds patients more likely to have ischemic strokes rather than hemorrhagic strokes

THURSDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Adults diagnosed with ocular shingles have a more than four-fold higher risk of stroke during the first year after diagnosis than those not diagnosed with ocular shingles, according to a study published online March 3 in Neurology.

Noting that neurologic complications such as childhood stroke can occur after infection with herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO), Herng-Ching Lin, Ph.D., of Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, and colleagues compared the risk of stroke in 658 adult patients diagnosed with HZO and 1,974 matched individuals without HZO.

After one year, the researchers found that stroke was more common in patients infected with HZO (8.1 versus 1.7 percent). The hazard ratio was 4.52, even after adjustment for factors such as age, gender, medications, and heart disease. The distribution of stroke subtypes also differed between the two groups, with HZO patients more likely to have ischemic strokes and less likely to have hemorrhagic strokes. One-year stroke-free survival rates were also significantly lower in the group infected with HZO. Antiviral treatment had no significant effect on stroke risk.

"As we face an aging population with increased risk factors for stroke, the results of this study reinforce the importance of primary and secondary stroke prevention in older people who develop HZO," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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