Background: Systemic inflammation and dysregulated immune function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is hypothesized to predispose patients to development of herpes zoster. However, the risk of herpes zoster among patients with COPD is undocumented. We therefore aimed to investigate the risk of herpes zoster among patients with COPD. Methods: We conducted a cohort study using data from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database. We performed Cox regressions to compare the hazard ratio (HR) of herpes zoster in the COPD cohort and in an age- and sex-matched comparison cohort. We divided the patients with COPD into three groups according to use of steroid medications and performed a further analysis to examine the risk of herpes zoster. Results: The study included 8486 patients with COPD and 33 944 matched control patients. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, patients with COPD were more likely to have incidents of herpes zoster (adjusted HR 1.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.45-1.95). When compared with the comparison cohort, the adjusted HR of herpes zoster was 1.67 (95% CI 1.43-1.96) for patients with COPD not taking steroid medications. The adjusted HR of herpes zoster was slightly greater for patients with COPD using inhaled corticosteroids only (adjusted HR 2.09, 95% CI 1.38-3.16) and was greatest for patients with COPD using oral steroids (adjusted HR 3.00, 95% CI 2.40-3.75). Interpretation: Patients with COPD were at increased risk of herpes zoster relative to the general population. The relative risk of herpes zoster was greatest for patients with COPD using oral steroids.
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