Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and stroke is the second leading cause of death in Los Angeles County. A new study, published in the November 1 issue Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reported that women who have been infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) are significantly more likely to suffer a myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke. In 2,450 women, the association of HPV with cardiovascular events was particularly high in women with cancer-associated HPV; furthermore, it was independent of CV risk factors and treatments as well as other contributory factors. The results “indicates that conventional risk factors cannot fully explain the relation of HPV to CVD [cardiovascular disease] and that presence of HPV infection, especially cancer-associated genotypes, is a strong and independent correlate for CVD,” wrote the authors, Drs Hsu-Ko Kuo and Ken Fujise from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. They added, “In addition to being a causative pathogen for cervical cancer, HPV appears to have roles in the management and prevention of CVD among women. Detecting the presence of an HPV infection may be useful in identifying and targeting women at risk for subsequent CVD who may require additional attention to avoid the development of cardiovascular events.” Also, “our findings may serve as a theoretical basis for additional benefit in cardiovascular health with HPV vaccination for women.”
According to an accompanying editorial, “a large variety of chronic infectious agents have been associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and have been confirmed in many studies. However, despite more than 20 years of intense research into the subject, the proposal that chronic infectious agents participate to an important extent in the development and progression of atherosclerosis remains just a hypothesis, neither proven nor disproven.”
In the analysis, vaginal swab specimens from the women (average age 38) were sent for HPV DNA testing; 46.6% were positive. Of the entire study groupt, 60 women (about 2.5%) reported that they had previously been diagnosed with a MI or stroke; 39 were HPV DNA positive and 21 were negative.
Take home message:
If you are HPV negative and at risk for acquiring the infection, it would be prudent to have the HPV vaccine.
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