Results of a new study published August 16,2018, in Theranostics show that there is a strong association between the common herpes cytomegalovirus (CMV) and the onset of cardiovascular disease. Aging, which is not treatable, is the most common reason given for the development of coronary artery disease that leads to arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. However, this study shows that people infected with the cytomegalovirus have a 20% increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes. The results of the study also showed that there is a strong association between CMV infection and the accumulation of CD28null CD4 T-cells, which are known to cause cardiovascular problems such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and even stroke. A persistent viral infection could be the trigger for the buildup of these kinds of cells. CD28null CD4 T-cells have also been strongly associated with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
These results offer hope for possible treatment interventions, as there is no real treatment to stop the progress of cardiovascular disease due to aging. However, there is potential anti-viral treatment for people infected with the cytomegalovirus that could possibly prevent cardiovascular disease or a potential way of preventing it by vaccine. At present, there is no treatment for it and it generally presents as a mild disease, so antivirals are only given to people who have a suppressed immune system. Some people do get a prolonged disease similar to mononucleosis from CMV, but most people get such mild symptoms that it generally goes unnoticed.
CMV like other herpes viruses remains forever in the body in a latent state and occasionally there may be new outbreaks of it. CMV is usually a relatively mild viral infection, which often goes undiagnosed and it is very common in young children and in day care centers. It is spread by contact with saliva, urine, blood or other bodily secretions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that by age 5 one in three children are infected with CMV and by age 40 more than half of adults are infected with it.
However, the main danger is if a pregnant woman becomes infected with CMV as it can cause damage to the unborn baby and the baby can be born with the virus and also with birth defects. This is called congenital CMV.
The CMV and other herpes viruses have been shown to have a strong association with cancers.
The Epstein Barr virus (EBV) has been strongly associated with cancers such as Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma, Burkitt’s Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Human herpesvirus 8, or Kaposi’s sarcoma associated virus (KSH)
Another recent study published July 11, 2018 in Neuron has shown a strong association between the herpes Roseoloviruses HHV-6A and HHV7 and Alzheimer’s disease. Roseola is also a very mild infection common to infants and small children. However, like other herpes viruses, the roseola virus also remains latent forever in the body. Perhaps, a drop in the immune system due to aging triggers the re-surfacing of this virus, which may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. More research is needed here and if such a connection is proven then the solution for preventing Alzheimer’s may be anti-viral drugs or the development of a roseola vaccine to be given to infants.
A very good example of a herpes virus that goes dormant, but re-surfaces as a different disease is that of the chicken pox virus in children, which may remain dormant for years and can re-surface in old age as herpes zoster commonly known as shingles. Shingles is a much more serious disease than chicken pox. Fortunately, today there is both a vaccine for preventing chicken pox and a vaccine for preventing shingles. Shingles can only strike people who had chicken pox as a child, so theoretically if every child was vaccinated for chicken pox and it became extinct the way small pox has become extinct, then there would also be no more shingles.
Further research is needed to confirm if the herpes CMV virus can cause coronary artery disease leading to arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Also, further research is necessary to establish if herpes roseola viruses are a possible cause for Alzheimer’s disease and if other herpes viruses are a cause of cancer. Results of further research could pave the way for vaccines. According to the CDC some vaccines are still in the research and development stage.
If you or your loved one are in need of a short or long-term skilled nursing and rehab facility for cardiovascular problems like stroke rehabilitation or after heart surgery then choose one that specializes in these areas like the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York.
NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
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