The unknown health burden of herpes zoster hospitalizations: The effect on chronic disease course in adult patients ≥50 years

Maria Francesca Piazza, Chiara Paganino, Daniela Amicizia, Cecilia Trucchi, Andrea Orsi, Matteo Astengo, Paolo Romairone, Simona Simonetti, Giancarlo Icardi, Filippo Ansaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of severe Herpes Zoster (HZ) on chronic diseases is a component of the real burden of this vaccine-preventable disease that is not commonly considered. A retrospective cohort study was conducted to assess the health burden of severe HZ in adults ≥50 years residing in Liguria Region from 2015 to 2017. Subjects hospitalized with and without HZ were matched (1:6 ratio). 437 subjects in the HZ cohort and 2622 subjects in the non-HZ cohort were enrolled. Previous immunodeficiency, autoimmune, and rare diseases are identified as main chronic conditions related to HZ hospitalization. Higher incidences of autoimmune (1.4% vs. 0.22%, p = 0.002) and gastrointestinal (7.04% vs. 3.62%, p = 0.015) diseases after hospitalization were observed in the HZ cohort compared to the non-HZ cohort. Significantly higher incidences were found after hospitalization versus the previous period for cardiovascular diseases (11.17% vs. 2.09%, p < 0.001), cerebral vasculopathy (6.13% vs. 0.60%, p < 0.001), non-arrhythmic myocardiopathy (4.31% vs. 0.59%, p = 0.002), and neuropathy (2.62% vs. 0.56%, p = 0.033). The HZ cohort showed a relative risk 10-fold higher for cerebral vasculopathy, 5-fold higher for cardiovascular diseases, and 7-fold higher for non-arrhythmic myocardiopathy. HZ causes a substantial impact on the chronic conditions. These data could suggest an implementation of HZ vaccination programs in the elderly and in high-risk groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Cerebral vasculopathy
  • Chronic diseases
  • Elderly
  • Herpes Zoster
  • High-risk groups
  • Hospitalizations
  • Readmissions and drug therapy
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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