ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
CANCER
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
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
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Add your Article

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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