Hepatitis C-infected individuals are shown to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease: “Hepatitis C virus increases the risk of coronary artery disease, a large American study published in the 15th July edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases (now online) has found. The study involved over 160,000 individuals, approximately half of whom were infected with hepatitis C. Despite having fewer risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the hepatitis C-infected individuals were more likely to have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.”
Other infectious diseases have been associated with cardiovascular disease risk, including HIV and other individuals who are co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C.
“Even though the individuals infected with hepatitis C had a lower prevalence of traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, the investigators’ statistical analysis (which controlled for possible confounding factors) showed that the hepatitis C independently increased the risk of such diseases by 27% (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.27, 95% confidence interval: 1.22-1.31). Traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease were also significant in both groups of patients.”
This is just another example of how little we actually know about the relationship (perhaps symbiotic?) between infectious disease agents, and what used to be considered diseases of lifestyle or unfortunate genetics. Epigenetics are going to be an important part of our medical care in the next few decades, and I think we are going to see many other examples of infectious agents having a role in what were once considered non-infectious diseases and afflictions.