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Viral Reactivation a Likely Link Between Stress and Heart Disease

A new study could provide the link that scientists have been looking for to confirm that reactivation of a latent herpes virus is a cause of some heart problems.

Looking at blood samples from 299 heart patients, researchers at Ohio State University found that those who had suffered a heart attack were the most likely to have inflammatory proteins circulating in their blood compared to patients with less acute symptoms. And having more of one of these proteins in the blood was linked to the presence of antibodies that signal a latent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation.

To date, these relationships have been hard to find because scientists have been unable to detect evidence of a virus in diseased areas of the cardiovascular system.
In this study, however, the researchers instead looked for antibodies against a protein that can be produced even when only partial or incomplete reactivation of Epstein-Barr EBV occurs. And when this antibody was detected, it was associated with immune system malfunctions connected to inflammation -- a known risk factor for heart disease.

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