Are Low-Grade Infections a Major Cause of Heart Disease?

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

British researchers have demonstrated a key gene signal involved with the formation of plaque in arteries1 as well as that plaque rupturing and causing a stroke.  When the gene is turned on then inflammation, arterial damage, and plaque formation follow.  When the gene is blocked, none of these problems happen.  Unfortunately, the gene is part of your natural defense against infection.

The gene signal is called TLR-2 (toll like receptor 2).  It exists on the surface of immune cells and is activated when cells come into contact with bacteria, yeasts (like Candida albicans), and viruses.  It can also be activated by too many free radicals (not enough antioxidants).

This is a rather major discovery, as many Americans battle low-grade infections that keep TLR-2 chronically activated.  One example is periodontal infections, which over the past few years have been clearly linked to heart disease.  However, low-grade infections are common in our society and tend to be associated with ongoing digestive and sinus problems.

This information suggests that individuals should do everything in their power to lower their personal infection burden, especially low-grade problems that can drag on for years (dental hygiene, Candida albicans issues, digestive issues, sinus issues, swollen glands, low-grade sore throats in the morning, never feeling quite the same after a nasty bug, etc.) 

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Infections may Drive Atherosclerosis  Circulation  Claudia Monaco, Scott M. Gregan, Tina J. Navin, Brian M.J. Foxwell, Alun H. Davies, and Marc Feldmann

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