Background: The association between heart failure (HF) and herpes zoster has rarely been studied. We investigated the hypothesis that HF may increase the risk of herpes zoster in Taiwan using a nationwide Taiwanese population-based claims database. Method: Our study cohort consisted of patients who received a diagnosis of HF in 2001 ~ 2009 (N=4785). For a comparison cohort, three age- and gender-matched control patients for every patient in the study cohort were selected using random sampling (N=14,355). All subjects were tracked for 1 year from the date of cohort entry to identify whether or not they had developed herpes zoster. Cox proportional-hazard regressions were performed to evaluate 1-year herpes zoster-free survival rates. Results: The main finding of this study was that patients with HF seemed to be at an increased risk of developing herpes zoster. Of the total patients, 211 patients developed herpes zoster during the 1-year follow-up period, among whom 83 were HF patients and 128 were in the comparison cohort. The adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) of herpes zoster in patients with HF was higher (AHR: 2.07; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.54 ~ 2.78; <0.001) than that of the controls during the 1-year follow-up. Our study also investigated whether HF is a gender-dependent risk factor for herpes zoster. We found that male patients with HF had an increased risk of developing herpes zoster (AHR: 2.30 95% CI: 1.51 ~ 3.50; <0.001). Conclusions: The findings of our population-based study suggest that patients with HF may have an increased risk of herpes zoster. These health associations should be taken into consideration, and further studies should focused on the cost-effectiveness of the herpes zoster vaccine should be designed for HF patients.
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