I. W. Fong, MB, BS, FRCPC, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Toronto, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON.
Atherosclerosis and its vascular complications are the leading causes of death in older people in developed countries. There are accumulating, albeit conflicting, data suggesting that infections, particularly Chlamydia pneumoniae, may play a role in atherogenesis and vascular events. Although prospective epidemiological and clinical studies have provided conflicting results, pathological studies have confirmed the association of C. pneumoniae with atherosclerotic disease. Moreover, many in vitro studies on biological mechanisms and studies in animal models have largely supported a plausible role of infections in atherogenesis. These data suggest that infections, especially C. pneumoniae, may be involved in the initiation and acceleration of atherosclerosis and potentially could lead to acute ischemic events by influencing plaque stability and coagulation.
Key words: atherosclerosis, Chlamydia pneumoniae, infections, older people.