Research conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston indicated the human papilloma virus could contribute to heart disease. (It is already known to play a role in the development of various cancers.) According to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, women with HPV are two to three times more likely to also have a stroke or heart attack, than women who don’t have HPV.
“This has important clinical implications. First, the HPV vaccine may also help prevent heart disease. Second, physicians should monitor patients with cancer-associated HPV to prevent heart attack and stroke, as well as HPV patients already diagnosed with [cardiovascular disease] to avoid future cardiovascular events,” said the study’s author. (Source: USAToday) He also said the study does not yet prove a cause and effect relationship. (More research will be required to explore the link.)
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, so the implications of the research linking it with heart disease are potentially very significant. About half of sexually active adults in America have HPV, and that number increases with age to the point where 80% of women at the age of fifty might have the virus.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control it cost over $300 billion dollars in the year 2010 for treatment, medications and lost productivity. (In 2006, over 630,000 Americans died from heart disease.)
Another HPV-related research study was reported about this month, but it focused on the association between oral sex and throat cancer.
Image Credit: NIH