Controversial Theory About Heart Disease - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/22/04

Controversial Theory About Heart Disease

This is a controversial theory, but one that has some scientific support.

Heart disease kills about a million Americans a year. Most people believe cholesterol is the main culprit, but a new theory is that the real underlying cause of cholesterol buildup, and ultimately heart attacks, could be a bacteria. That heart disease is perhaps an infectious disease that you could catch from someone else.

Dr. Peter Salgo, author and researcher, believes that bacterial infection is as common as heart disease itself, he blames a bug, called chlamydia pneumoniae, which is not the same thing as the chlamydia that is sexually transmitted. This bug, he says, you can get by breathing.

"It can cause small infections in your lung, but the funny thing about these infections is that some of them don't go away, and the bacteria that get in your lung eventually get in your blood and go to your heart, and a byproduct of this inflammation of the coronary arteries is that it also eats up the coronary arteries which leads to a heart attack."

Dr. Peter Salgo has compiled numerous scientific studies into a book in which he makes several bold and controversial recommendations for dealing with heart disease. First, he believes that everyone should be tested for the chlamydia pneumoniae infection and treated with antibiotics if they show signs of it. Secondly, he believes virtually every adult in the U.S. should be taking statins, which are powerful, but generally safe, cholesterol-lowering drugs. And third, he says we should all be taking a baby aspirin every day, not to thin the blood but because it blocks the artery damaging inflammation that results from this bacteria.

Again, this is just one new theory, but one that cardiologists are talking about. More research is underway. In the meantime, don't change anything you do for your heart, like diet and exercise.

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