Bacteria's Role in Heart Disease Discovered
January 02, 2008
Scientists believe they have discovered how a common bacterial infection can trigger heart disease - a controversial hypothesis that is generating enormous interest among heart researchers. The key finding, reported in this week’s Science, is that chlamydia bacteria, which cause lung and eye infections and a sexually transmitted disease, have a protein on their outer coat that mimics a protein found in the heart muscle of mammals. Normally this molecular mimicry allows the bacterium to evade the chlamydia-infected individual's immune system. But sometimes the immune cells are not fooled; they mount an attack against the chlamydia germs that gets misdirected against heart cells as if they were the enemy. What we now see is that we don't have to have bacterial damage to the heart in order for bacteria to cause heart disease.
Chlamydia infections are very common; at least two out of three adults have antibody evidence of a past infection. Since heart disease is also common, it has been impossible to know from epidemiology alone if the two diseases were really linked. Boston University researchers reported earlier this month that British patients who had been treated with certain antibiotics were less likely to develop heart disease. Two large human studies are underway to see if antibiotic treatment will prevent heart attacks among individuals who have already survived one.
COMMENT: It does appear that there is a strong link between heart disease and these infections. Antibiotic treatment would be one way to address the issue. I suspect the situation is very similar to the issue with rheumatoid arthritis. I have treated more than 2,500 patients with this illness over the last ten years. (You can find my protocol at ) However, I believe it is far better to boost the immune system with nutritional interventions. I believe that is why people who follow my diet recommendations seem to do better with the antibiotics. They do not generally experience a severe worsening of their symptoms and usually respond dramatically well to the treatment. I suspect that the situation is open to a more aggressive intervention of heart disease by screening individuals for antibodies to chlamydia and treating them with a low dose pulsed regimens similar to the one we use in rheumatoid arthritis. The Minocin in the protocol works wonderfully well for chlamydia.