ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
FITNESS
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
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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