Nov. 9, 2000
Study suggests HSV-1 infection may contribute to heart disease
Preliminary evidence from a UW study suggests that older people who have had a past infection with herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) may have a greater risk of heart attack or death from coronary artery disease than those never infected with the virus.
Researchers in the Cardiovascular Health Study, headed by David Siscovick, professor of medicine and epidemiology, investigated the relationship between incident myocardial infarction and death from coronary heart disease and the presence of antibodies to three common infectious organisms: herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), cytomegalovirus and Chlamydia pneumoniae.
The results suggested that the presence of HSV-1 antibodies was associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of heart attack and death from heart disease. No adverse association was found with cytomegalovirus. Overall, there was no relationship between the presence of C. pneumoniae antibodies and coronary heart disease. There was, however, a possible association in patients with very high levels of C. pneumoniae antibodies.
The findings were published in the Nov. 7 issue of Circulation, the Journal of the American Heart Association, in a three-article section on the possible role of infection and inflammation in coronary artery disease.
Siscovick noted the role of infection as a contributor to heart disease remains controversial. He added that prior infection with suspected organisms is unlikely to be a sole predictor of whether a person will develop heart disease.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute funded the study.
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