ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Eat Light - Live Longer
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
Tune Up Your Health With Music
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- A hidden viral infection that most adults harbor could be a cause of high blood pressure, animal studies indicate.

Mice infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) were more likely to develop not only high blood pressure but also the hardening of the arteries called atherosclerosis, according to a report in the May 15 issue of PLoS Pathogens by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

"This could be of immense importance," said lead researcher Dr. Clyde Crumpacker, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an investigator in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess. "The implication for the human population is that antiviral therapy or a vaccine could be an intervention for high blood pressure."

CMV infection is widespread, Crumpacker noted. Studies indicate that between 60 percent and 99 percent of adults worldwide are infected, according to the study. But aside from pregnancy, where CMV infection is associated with serious birth defects, it causes no problems for most adults "until they get something that compromises the immune system," he noted.

"Vascular [blood vessel] injury has been suspected for quite a while," Crumpacker said. "What we have added, in collaboration with cardiologists, is evidence that in mice, CMV can cause an increase in blood pressure."

Blood vessel problems related to CMV infection were first noted in heart transplant recipients, Crumpacker said. Those who were CMV-positive were more likely to have blockage of the heart arteries.

The new study brought together specialists from several fields, including cardiology, virology and pathology to look at the phenomenon in mice. The study included four groups of mice, two fed a standard diet, and two fed a high-cholesterol diet. After four weeks, mice in one standard-diet group and one high-cholesterol group were infected with CMV.

"We were able to measure blood pressure directly in the arteries of the mice," Crumpacker said. The studies showed increased blood pressure in the infected mice after six weeks, but not in the uninfected group. It also showed that 30 percent of the infected mice in the high-cholesterol group developed atherosclerosis as well as high blood pressure.

There are several possible mechanisms for the pressure-raising effect of CMV, Crumpacker said. One is that it increases the activity of renin, an enzyme associated with high blood pressure. The study showed that CMV also increases activity of angiotensin 11, a protein involved in high blood pressure.

Most cases of high blood pressure in humans are of unknown origin, Crumpacker said. "Ninety-eight percent of the time, we don't know what the cause is," he said. If CMV infection is established as a cause -- something that requires much more research -- the way would be open for better methods of prevention and treatment, Crumpacker said.

"This is very exciting and important work," said Dr. Mark R. Schleiss, who holds the American Legion chair of pediatric infectious disease at the University of Minnesota and is a leading figure in the drive to develop a CMV vaccine.

"It is virtually certain that cytomegalovirus infection makes at least some contribution to cardiovascular disease in people," Schleiss said. "Obviously, cytomegalovirus is not the whole picture. There are other issues, including smoking, physical activity and diet. But this extends our body of knowledge about the role cytomegalovirus infection can play, and it is an important role, in cardiovascular disease."

The effort to develop a CMV vaccine has concentrated on childbirth, since infection during pregnancy is the leading cause of mental retardation and deafness in children, Schleiss said. "Now there is an urgency to develop a vaccine for men as well as women," he said.

More information

The dangers of cytomegalovirus infection are described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Clyde Crumpacker, M.D., professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, and investigator, Division of Infectious Diseases, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Boston; Mark R. Schleiss, M.D., American Legion chair of pediatric infectious disease, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; May 15, 2009, PLoS Pathogens

Last Updated: May 15, 2009

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