Journal Article

Role of Infection as a Risk Factor for Atherosclerosis, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke

K. J. Mattila, V. V. Valtonen, M. S. Nieminen and S. Asikainen

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 26, issue 3, pages 719-734
Published in print March 1998 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online March 1998 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/514570
Role of Infection as a Risk Factor for Atherosclerosis, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke

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An increasing body of evidence has linked infections to atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Herpesviruses cause atherosclerosis in experimental animals. Herpesviruses can also be detected in atherosclerotic lesions in humans. Cytomegalovirus may play a role in arteriosclerosis in transplanted hearts, and this virus, together with tumor suppressor protein p53, can be found in restenosis lesions following angioplasty. Chlamydia pneumoniae and dental infections are associated with coronary heart disease in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, and preceding respiratory infections are associated with ischemic stroke. Infections may favor formation of atherosclerosis and thrombosis by elevation of blood levels of fibrinogen, leukocytes, clotting factor, and cytokines and by alteration of the metabolism and functions of endothelial cells and monocyte macrophages. Low-grade infections may also be one of the causes of the inflammatory reaction observed in atherosclerotic lesions and acute ischemic symptoms, reflected in elevated levels of C-reactive protein. These observations warrant further studies in this field.

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Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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