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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1998 May;31(6):1217-25.

Interactive role of infection, inflammation and traditional risk factors in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610, USA.


Although first suggested at the turn of the 20th century, there is a renewed interest in the infectious theory of atherosclerosis. Studies done in many laboratories around the world over the past several years have shown an association between markers of inflammation and coronary atherosclerosis with an exacerbation of the inflammatory process during acute myocardial ischemia, particularly in the early stages of reperfusion. It is also being recognized that the traditional risk factors, such as smoking, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes mellitus, do not explain the presence of coronary atherosclerosis in a large proportion of patients. We believe that in certain genetically susceptible people, infection with very common organisms, such as Chlamydia pneumoniae or cytomegalovirus, may lead to a localized infection and a chronic inflammatory reaction. Persistence of infection may relate to the degree of inflammation and severity of atherosclerosis. Early trials with appropriate antibiotic agents in some patients with a recent history of acute myocardial infarction have led to very salutary results. If patients with an infectious basis of atherosclerosis can be identified, a therapy directed at eradication of the offending organism may be appropriate.

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