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09/06/2002 - News

Infection plays a role in smokers' heart disease risk

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Smoking promotes infection which, in turn, tends to clog up arteries, leading to increased risk of a heart attack.

It's already known that smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Researchers in Austria now reveal that infection could be the missing link in this problem. Along with British and Italian colleagues, they have measured the development of atherosclerotic plaque - fatty deposits - that increases heart disease risk in a group of 826 men and women aged between 40 and 79.

Smoking tends to promote common chronic infections - such as bronchitis, ulcers, urinary tract infection and gum disease. Smokers who did have such infections were three times more likely to develop atherosclerotic plaque, the researchers found. A smaller, but still significant, increased risk was also found among non-smokers and former smokers, if they had a chronic infection. The study suggests that anyone who has a chronic infection should do their best to get it cleared up - for the sake of the health of their heart.


Stroke September 2002

Created on: 09/06/2002
Reviewed on: 09/06/2002

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