Common Virus Could Cause High Blood Pressure
Reported May 15, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — One in three United States adults has high blood pressure, a condition without any known symptoms. A new study suggests that a common virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), is a cause of high blood pressure and may also lead to hardening in the arteries.
Between 60 and 99 percent of adults worldwide are affected by CMV, a virus of the herpes family and the source of congenital infection, mononucleosis and severe infection in transplant patients. Although one may not experience any symptoms, most adults have contracted CMV by age 40. The virus then remains dormant in the system and shows itself once the immune system weakens.
The study, conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, incorporated doctors from numerous fields of study to discover the effects of CMV which had previously been overlooked. Through a study on laboratory mice, researchers found in both a standard diet and a high-cholesterol diet, subjects with CMV later displayed a higher blood pressure. Those with a high cholesterol diet suffered from a more drastic increase in blood pressure. The high cholesterol diet, in combination with CMV, also increased the likelihood of hardened arteries.
The new findings may provide doctors with improved treatments for their patients with hypertension, including anti-viral therapies or vaccines.
SOURCE: PLoS Pathogens, May 2009