Strengthening suspicions that infections often trigger heart disease, doctors found that artery-clearing angioplasty frequently fails to work in people who carry a common virus.
The culprit is cytomegalovirus, or CMV, a seemingly harmless bug that quietly infects most people if they live long enough. A study published today found that the risk of angioplasty failure is five times higher than usual if people are infected with CMV.
CMV is not the only infection that may be bad for the heart. Other research implicates a commonplace bacteria known as Chlamydia pneumoniae, which causes a form of pneumonia; herpes simplex, or the cold sore virus; and Helicobacter pylori, the germ that causes ulcers.
Traces of these bugs are often found in the clumps of fat and cells that clog the arteries. Moreover, infected people often appear more likely to have these fatty buildups, a common problem known as atherosclerosis.
“The obvious dream is to develop a vaccine against the agents that cause atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Gregory Vercellotti.