ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Eat Light - Live Longer
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
After Job Loss, People Report More Health Issues
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
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
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
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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