Stomach Bug May Harm Heart
H. pylori Linked to Irregular Heartbeat
June 16, 2005 -- A common bacterial infection implicated in the majority of
stomach ulcers may also harm the heart, according to a new study that links
H. pylori to the development of an irregular heartbeat.
Irregular heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, causes the heart
to beat inefficiently. According to the American Heart Association, most people
with the abnormal rhythm have only unpleasant symptoms and no harm. However, it
can result in pooling of blood in the heart chambers, increasing the risk of
clots that cause stroke. If the irregular heartbeats continue, heart failure
In the study, researchers found that people with atrial fibrillation were 20
times more likely to test positive for H. pylori, the bacteria that
can cause stomach ulcers, than people without the condition.
Researchers say it's the first study to link atrial fibrillation to H.
<em>H. pylori</em> Linked to Atrial Fibrillation
Italian researchers say the idea for the study came after they discovered
that many of the patients treated at their cardiology clinic for atrial
fibrillation also had stomach problems.
They tested 59 people with persistent atrial fibrillation for H.
pylori and C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation that is
associated with heart disease and other health problems. They compared the
results with those of 45 healthy volunteers.
The results, which appear in the current issue of the journal
Heart, showed that H. pylori was nearly 20 times more common
in people with atrial fibrillation than in the comparison group. In addition,
C-reactive protein levels were about five times higher among those with atrial
Although more studies are needed to confirm the link between H.
pylori and atrial fibrillation, researchers say the results suggest that
chronic infection with this bacteria may predispose people to the development
of irregular heartbeat.