ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Free Range
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Go To Work But Skip The Car
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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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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