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Relation of Helicobacter pylori infection and coronary heart disease
BACKGROUND–There is evidence suggesting that early life experience may influence adult risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Chronic bacterial infections have been associated with CHD.
OBJECTIVE–To determine whether Helicobacter pylori, a childhood acquired chronic bacterial infection, is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in later life.
DESIGN–Case-control study controlling for potential confounding variables with an opportunistically recruited control group.
SUBJECTS–111 consecutive cases with documented CHD were recruited from a cardiology clinic and 74 controls from a general practice health screening clinic. All were white men aged 45-65.
METHODS–Serum was analysed for the presence of H pylori specific IgG antibodies by ELISA (98% sensitive and 94% specific for the presence of infection).
RESULTS–59% of the cases and 39% of the controls were seropositive for H pylori (odds ratio 2.28, chi 2 7.35, p = 0.007). After adjustment by multiple logistic regression for age, cardiovascular risk factors, and current social class, the effect of H pylori was little altered (odds ratio 2.15, p = 0.03). Further adjustment for various features of the childhood environment known to be risk factors for H pylori infection only slightly weakened the association (odds ratio 1.9). H pylori seropositivity was not related to the level of risk factors in the control population.
CONCLUSION–In this pilot study the association of adult coronary heart disease with H pylori seropositivity suggests that the early childhood environment may be important in determining the risk of CHD in adult life. The association needs confirmation in other better designed studies. If H pylori itself is responsible for the association, then this is of great potential importance as the infection is treatable.