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Healthy Heart Reports

Is It Time For Antibiotics For Arteriosclerosis?

Does it surprise you that most men who get heart attacks do not have excessively high blood cholesterol levels? Doctors are trying to find another cause or modifiable factor causing heart attacks, and the most likely cause is infection. Researchers have tried to associated heart attacks with helicobacter, the germ that causes stomach ulcers; Ebstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis; salmonella that causes the terrible diaarhea of typhoid fever; and many other germs, but the most likely culprit is chlamydia pneumoniae (1).

More than 50 percent of middle aged adults throughout the world have high antibody titers against Chlamydia pneumoniae, showing that half the people have been infected with chlamydia. These same antibodies against chlamydia have been found in atherosclerotic tissue by various methods, including microimmunofluorescence, and many studies link high antibody titers to increased risk of heart attacks. Chlamydia damages the inner lining of the arteries, the first step in forming a plaque. Chlamydia contains a clotting factor that causes clots to block arteries. Chlamydia cause white blood cells to release tremendous amounts of chemicals called cytokines that cause the inflammation that forms plaques.

Several recent animal studies suggest that taking antibiotics may reduce your risk of getting a heart attack. A report in Circulation shows that taking a type of erythromycin antibiotic for one month prevents the recurrence of plaques that block arteries in the legs. Most doctors refuse to accept new ideas until the ideas have been around for more than 20 years and everyone else is prescribing that new treatment. So it is very unlikely that your doctor will give you Zithromax, Biaxin or Dynabec for one month. But add this study to several others showing that people who take long-acting erythromycin antibiotics are less likely to get second heart attacks. If I had impotence caused by arteriosclerosis, or had had a heart attack, a stroke, or a history of clots, I would take Zithromax, Biaxin, or Dynabec for one month because I think that the evidence now shows that it is safer to take this antibiotic, than to continue to be impotent, or die from a stroke or heart attack.

1) Review of evidence for a connection between Chlamydia pneumoniae and atherosclerotic disease. Clinical Therapeutics, 2002, Vol 24, Iss 5, pp 719-735. JP Dugan, RR Feuge, DS Burgess. Burgess DS, Univ Texas, Hlth Sci Ctr, Clin Pharm Program, MSC 6220, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr, San Antonio,TX 78229 USA.

2) roxithromycin treatment prevents progression of peripheral arterial occlusive disease in Chlamydia pneumoniae seropositive men - A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Circulation, 2002, Vol 105, Iss 22, pp 2646-2652. P Wiesli, W Czerwenka, A Meniconi, FE Maly, U Hoffmann, W Vetter, G Schulthess. Schulthess G, Univ Zurich Hosp, Med Poliklin, Dept Internal Med, CH-8091 Zurich, SWITZERLAND


Copyright 2002
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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