Public Release: 

Common Infection Linked To High Blood Pressure

American Heart Association

NR 98-4857 (Hyper/Briefs)

DALLAS, Feb. 20 -- The common microbe, Chlamydia pneumoniae, which is responsible for pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infections, is linked with severe high blood pressure, according to a study in this month's Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Previous studies indicate that this bacterium is one of the most prevalent infectious agents worldwide with a wide range of clinical manifestations, including coronary heart disease and stroke," says Peter. J. Cook, specialist registrar at Heartland Hospital in Birmingham, England. "Now we know that severe high blood pressure falls into the same category." Severe high blood pressure is indicated by a reading of 160/90 millimeters of mercury or greater.

The American Heart Association previously reported (Circulation, July 15, 1997) that heart attack survivors who had the most Chlamydia pneumoniae antibodies had a four-times-higher risk for suffering another heart attack or needing treatment to restore blood flow to the heart than did survivors with no detectable antibodies in their blood.

Cook says his study was designed to determine whether the bacterium was associated with severe high blood pressure in a multiracial inner-city British population. The study included 123 patients with high blood pressure and 123 healthy individuals. Thirty-five percent of individuals with high blood pressure and 18 percent of matched healthy individuals had Chlamydia infection.

Contact: P. J. Cook: ph.: 011-44-121-766-6611; fax: 011-44-121-772-0292.

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