What Do Hypertension and Ulcers Have In Common?


Answer: They were both thought to be due to “stress” at one point, but were later linked to infectious processes.

Most ulcers are now known to be caused by Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori for short.

Now a new study in the Public Library of Science shows that hypertension may be caused by cytomegalovirus infections. CMV apparently increases inflammation in the blood vessel walls and increases the secretion of both renin and angiotensin II – both known to contribute to hypertension. CMV infection plus a high cholesterol diet also caused atherosclerosis in the aorta while CMV infection without high cholesterol did not.

Any pharmaceutical company that has a hypertension medication on patent is not going to be happy about this study. Then again, Roche stock is probably going to make a nice little jump as Roche makes ganciclovir and valganciclovir – both medications used to treat CMV. Roche also makes a little-known drug called Tamiflu.

Wouldn’t it be wild if all the hypertensive medications were rendered useless by an antiviral drug?

I’d be interested to see whether HIV patients on chronic treatment for CMV retinitis are any less likely to have hypertension.

Additional news stories from:
Reuters, Medpage Today, and the Associated Press


  1. Wasn’t real familiar with these drugs so googled away and found the second drug becomes more bioavailable when ingested with fatty foods so let’s hear it for those high cholesterol diets.
    What I find interesting about this is how many things that are the holy grail today be old wives’ tales in ten years.
    I, for one, am hoping that anticarcinogens will be found in Krispy Kremes.

  2. The study at hand was done in mice, so any possible applicability to humans will be many years down the road. Don’t buy or sell stock based on this, unless you have money to burn.

  3. Interesting. But no talk about aldosterone, another hormone that has been shown to be a cause of hypertension in blacks.

    Speaking from experience, as I have enlarged adrenals myself. While it would be nice to take an antiviral and stop taking half of the handful of pills I take everyday, that’s pretty much wishful thinking at this point.

  4. There are so many more drugs that works for mice than humans, no wonder there are so many of those little critters around.

  5. The way I’m reading this, it was already known that CMV (and various other virus) infections contribute to cardiovascular disease, and this study was investigating the mechanism. I can’t even hazard a guess as to what percentage of humans with hypertension are CMV+ — is anyone ever even tested for that besides prospective platelet donors?

  6. I’m sure even if CMV is a cause of HTN, there are other causes too and anti-hypertensives still will have a good business.

    All of our patients gets tested for CMV every Monday and almost all of them are negative (and the ones that aren’t get ganciclovir) and HTN is still a real issue for many of them.

  7. It would be wonderful if antivirals ended up being a solution to many of our health issues. There is also research out there connecting autoimmune diseases to viral infection; my “acute lymphocytic thyroiditis” and my dear friend’s MS.

    I did avoid taking anti-hypertensives by proving to my doc that under-treated thyroid and inflammation contributed to arterial stiffening; she upped the meds and the blood pressure normalized.

    Whoever solves the autoimmune problem will be king of MY world! 😀

  8. I find this interesting because while I had active CMV (non HIV) infection 10 years ago my BP would spike at random times throughout the day (did my own checks at home). This is not listed in medical most textbooks as one of its “protean” manifestations. My BP was fine once the acute infection was over. I’ll be following this study with interest.

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