Antibiotics Reduce Inflammation In Heart Disease But Effect On Heart Attacks Remains Unproven

DALLAS, March 30 -- Antibiotic treatment can reduce the "markers" of inflammation in the circulation of individuals who have coronary heart disease, but it has not yet been shown to prevent heart attacks, according to early results of a study reported today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

These findings have led the study's author and principal investigator, Jeffrey L. Anderson, M.D., chief of the division of cardiology at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and the study's co-principal investigator, J. Brent Muhlestein, M.D., to call for additional research before conclusions are drawn about the relationship between infection and heart disease. Several small earlier investigations indicated a much more dramatic cause-and-effect scenario, but those results may have been "overstated," Anderson says.

"There is a strong reason to believe that inflammation in the blood vessels plays a much larger role in coronary heart disease than was once thought," he adds.

"We now know that such factors as high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which contributes to atherosclerosis, the cause of heart attacks," says Anderson. "If common infectious agents such as Chlamydia pneuomoniae 'rev up' the atherosclerotic inflammatory process, antibiotic therapy could become a major breakthrough treatment against a disease that kills more Americans each year than any other disease.

"We once thought peptic ulcers were unrelated to bacterial infection, but we know today that they can be effectively treated with antibiotics. We need to find out if the same could prove true of heart disease," he continues.

The ongoing two-year trial reported in Circulation includes 302 individuals with established heart disease and evidence of prior infection by a pneumonia-causing organism called Chlamydia pneumoniae. After six months, indi

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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