Many different kinds of infections seem to increase the risk of heart disease. Why this happens isn't clear. The whole issue is still controversial.
University of Tokyo researcher Nobukazu Ishizaka, MD, and co-workers looked at the general health screening tests from 4,784 people. Blood tests showed that 104 of these people carried the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Ultrasound tests showed that these HCV-infected people were twice as likely to have clogged heart arteries as uninfected people who otherwise had that same risk of heart disease. Even more alarming was the finding that these people with HCV infection were nearly three times more likely to have thickening of the wall of the carotid artery -- a known risk factor for heart disease.
Whether this happens only to people in Japan -- or only to people with certain subtypes of HCV infection -- remains unknown.
More study will be needed to find out what's going on. Meanwhile, people with HCV should ask their doctors about their risk of heart disease. They should also consider adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle.