Could Bacteria Be One of the Causes of Heart Disease? The UW Leads an $11 Million Study to Find Out.
by Julie Garner
Rod Vroman had just bicycled 19 miles around the Marymoor Park Velodrome in Redmond when it hit him: nausea and a burning sensation down his left arm. "I was 45, a typical "type A" male with cholesterol over 400. I was overweight and sedentary. I also had just finished a high stress job, being principal of a junior high school," he recalls.
Medic One arrived within five minutes and took him to Evergreen Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a moderate myocardial infarction (heart attack) and treated with the clot-buster Streptokinase. He also underwent quintuple bypass surgery within days.
Now age 60, Vroman has enjoyed 15 years of good health by taking his medication, eating right and exercising. Vroman is a lucky man. Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, killing 476,124 in 1996. Every 29 seconds someone is struck by cardiac arrest.
Over the years medical science has tried to track down the cause of heart disease. It could be a congenital defect or, as in Vroman's case, a sedentary lifestyle and too much fat, conditions that along with smoking are often cited as a cause of heart disease.
But until 1989, no one considered that a common, pear-shaped bacterium whose traces can be found in 80 percent of all men and 70 percent of all women on Earth could be a key to the killer.
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