Chronic Infection and the Risk for Heart Disease. Ann Intern Med. 1999;131:573. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-131-8-199910190-00039
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 1999;131(8):573.
Some studies suggest that people with chronic infection are more likely to have common types of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and strokes) than people without chronic infection. However, these studies have not been able to sort out whether chronic infection occurred before or after the disease developed. Some of the bacteria and viruses (“germs”) that researchers have found in people with coronary disease include Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, herpes simplex virus, and cytomegalovirus.
The researchers wanted to find out if people who were exposed to any of these bacteria or viruses in the past were more likely than people without this exposure to get cardiovascular disease in the future.
The researchers studied women who were in the Women's Health Study. This study collected a lot of health information from healthy women, through surveys and reviews of medical records, over a number of years. All of the women in this study were health professionals. This study focused on 122 women who developed heart attacks or strokes during the years of the study and 244 women who did not develop these problems.
All of the women gave blood samples at the beginning of the study. The researchers tested these samples to look for antibodies to four kinds of bacteria and viruses. Antibodies are substances that develop in the blood to help fight infection. If a person has antibodies to a certain bacteria or virus in their blood, this means they had an infection with that germ some time in the past. The researchers compared whether the women who had heart attacks or strokes were more likely than those that did not to have antibodies suggesting past infections.
Women with blood tests that suggested they had not had past infections were just as likely to develop heart disease or strokes as women whose blood tests suggested they did have previous infections.
The study could not rule out very small increases in heart attacks or strokes. Also, the researchers looked at only four types of bacteria or viruses.
Treating infections is not likely to be a good way to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Of course, there may be other reasons to treat these infections.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Cardiology, Infectious Disease.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2016 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only