It was of all things a herpes virus that was studied. The virus is potentially responsible for irritating the blood vessels, which in turn leads to high blood pressure, along with fatty diets added in here too. So perhaps everyone with herpes should have their blood pressure checked routinely, but everyone should do that anyway.
Herpes link to hypertension?
UPDATE 2018: Since the old version of this article (below) is still getting comments, I decided to do a bit more research on a possible herpes link to hypertension.
There isn’t actually much recent information about a connection between herpes and high blood pressure online which may suggest there isn’t a strong herpes link to hypertension. However, there is some evidence that there’s some kind of association with herpes and high blood pressure. Here’s a brief summary of some key research studies.
Herpes simplex and high blood pressure
Herpes simplex virus type 1 and hypertension
A 1986 article in the New York Times reports on several studies looking at herpes simplex in relation to the condition of one’s arteries. Studies have found that having herpes simplex (herpes simplex virus type 1) may increase one’s risk of developing atherosclerosis (a form of arteriosclerosis) – hardening of the arteries.
Herpes simplex type 1 is the virus which can cause cold sores (fever blisters) and most people have the virus in their bodies, even if they rarely or never have any symptoms. However, studies suggest that the virus can impair the ability of the cells of the blood vessel walls to deal with cholesterol in the bloodstream. As such, the arteries are more likely to develop hard plaques, characteristic of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis in turn makes you more likely to develop high blood pressure and/or heart disease. (High blood pressure is also a cause of arteriosclerosis, itself damaging the walls of the arteries.)
In the words of one lead researcher, Dr. David Hajjar of Cornell University Medical College in New York.
”Our hypothesis is that the virus early on transforms or alters cells within the blood vessel so that during our years of development the blood vessel can’t handle all the cholesterol that comes in.”
I should emphasise there that this does not mean that everyone who has herpes simplex is going to develop atherosclerosis or high blood pressure. Since plenty people with herpes simplex never develop atherosclerosis or hypertension, there are clearly many other factors at work.
Read the original article here: Herpes virus implicated in clogging of arteries (New York Times)
Herpes simplex virus type 2 and hypertension
Herpes simplex type 2 is the virus which causes genital herpes. Fun fun. A 2004 study analysed blood samples from 488 people with hypertension and 756 people without. It found that those with hypertension had a higher rate of herpes simplex infection. As such, the study authors concluded that:
The results of this study indicated that HSV-2 infection might be an independent risk factor for essential hypertension.
As for why, well it seems that inflammation may be the link. Increasingly researchers are finding that chronic inflammation in the body (including the blood vessels) is associated with high blood pressure. Herpes simplex virus type 2 causes inflammation (amongst other symptoms), and having this infection was associated with high blood pressure in this study.
Read the original article here: Herpes simplex virus type 2 infection is a risk factor for hypertension (PubMed)
Cytomegalovirus and high blood pressure
Another virus, which is in the herpes family of viruses, has also been associated with high blood pressure. Like herpes simplex, cytomegalovirus is one of those viruses that most of us will have picked up by the time we’re middle-aged. Most of us will fortunately remain symptom-free, though cytomegalovirus can be serious for those with weak immune-systems and for babies.
As with herpes simplex, scientists had already found that having the cytomegalovirus (CMV) in your system was associated with atherosclerosis. However, this new study brought together medical researchers from different specialties to figure out why. (This is the 2009 study referenced in our original post on the herpes link to hypertension, below).
They found that mice infected with CMV had significantly higher blood pressure after six weeks than those without CMV. They also found that mice put on a high-cholesterol diet and infected with CMV were even more likely to develop higher blood pressure and also atherosclerosis.
Further research also allowed the researchers to start to unpick the reasons for this. They found that CMV infection increased inflammation in the mices’ blood vessels, and other tissues. It also resulted in greater production of renin and angiotensin II, two substances involved in raising blood pressure.
In the words of one of the lead researchers, Mr Crumpacker,
We found that CMV infection alone led to an increase in high blood pressure, and when combined with a high-cholesterol diet, the infection actually induced atherosclerosis in a mouse aorta.
Now, this series of studies involved mice, not humans. However, the results show clear ways in which this virus can raise blood pressure in humans too. More research is ongoing.
Read the original article here: Common virus may cause high blood pressure (Harvard Gazette)
Confirming this herpes and hypertension link was a 2016 analysis. Researchers analysed three studies which had looked the link between CMV and high blood pressure. They concluded that.
The results showed a significant association between CMV and essential hypertension, which indicates that CMV infection is a possible cause of essential hypertension.
Regarding possible reasons for this association, they found some evidence for inflammation and affecting the renin-angiotensin system, as in the 2009 study above. They also suggested the immune response to CMV infection itself may increase blood pressure, and gene-related changes induced by CMV.
Read the original article here: Association of cytomegalovirus infection with hypertension risk: a meta-analysis (Springer.com)
So what’s the deal – is there a herpes link to hypertension?
Well, it looks like there is evidence that having herpes infections – whether herpes simplex or cytomegalovirus – can put you at more risk of developing high blood pressure. However, since herpes infections are far more common than high blood pressure, having a herpes virus in your system clearly doesn’t sentence you to high blood pressure.
And what can you do about it?
Some of the researchers involved in the studies discussed have suggested that in the future the medical profession may look at viral therapies to treat some cases of high blood pressure. Some note that vaccines could be developed against the various herpes viruses.
However effective these may prove to to be, one thing is clear by now. And that’s that high blood pressure has many causes – not just across different people but often even within one person. What’s also clear is that, regardless of any viral factors that predispose you to high blood pressure, how you live can make a big difference.
Most of us now know that what you eat and drink can have a serious effect on your blood pressure. Indeed, this was highlighted in the herpes study on mice, above, which found that those put on a high-cholesterol diet were more likely to develop atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
What kind of lifestyle you have, day to day, also affects blood pressure. Not being physically active enough increases your chances of developing (or worsening) hypertension, as does being frequently stressed.
So, whether you have any kind of herpes virus or not, there is plenty you can do yourself to alter your blood pressure. Even in the worst case scenario – if you have a herpes virus and if it does increase your blood pressure – there’s plenty you can do to counteract this. Read on for more details.
How to lower your blood pressure naturally (even if you have a herpes virus)
As I just mentioned, you can go a long way to improving your blood pressure yourself, even if you have a herpes virus. You could probably make some alterations to what you eat and drink. A few more fresh vegetables, a few less fizzy drinks and sodas. You could be a bit more active. Jog up the stairs instead of walking up. Walk at least part of the way to work. Go for a brisk stroll round the park on your lunchbreak. And you could almost certainly learn how to be more relaxed. Shed that stress!
Yes, yes, I hear you saying. But it’s easier said than done. Absolutely. Which is why we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide to help you do it: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
As the title suggests, it’s laid out in nine clear and simple steps. You can follow these at entirely your own pace. Do one a week, one a month, whatever you want.
The guide covers what to eat and drink (and not eat and drink) to lower your blood pressure, easy ways to get more exercise, and a range of tried-and-tested techniques to relax and unwind.
Follow the guide, and you’ll be on the way to lowering your blood pressure naturally and effectively, and for life.
One last thing – a major obstacle many of us have to such changes is the fear that it’s going to be difficult and seriously dull. On the contrary, lowering your blood pressure can actually be seriously enjoyable.
First of all, there are plenty foods and drinks you can buy or make which are delicious and also happen to be healthy (nuts, dark chocolate, avocado are just a few). And there are plenty ways you can get yourself moving more without having to go to a gym, or even without having to leave your house (you can even turn your everyday chores into invigorating exercise – put on some music and dance while you hoover or do the weeding). And the relaxation techniques we discuss are pure pleasure.
The issue here is what you’re doing habitually – every day, or most days. So if you’re mostly eating healthily and being active, then you can still have a totally unhealthy snack or utterly lazy day now and again. The thing is to get into good habits and then you can live a healthier life, unfettered by worries about your blood pressure (and herpes). Our guide will help you do that. Click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
(This post by Alison, original post below by Simon.)
ORIGINAL POST (May 2009): —————————————————————————————–
Vaccines and antiviral drugs could be a new way of treatment for Hypertension. Several drug companies are working on the creation of a vaccine. The connection between cholesterol with the virus also played an important role in the study as well. BD
It might be the case that some cases of hypertension are caused by herpes infection. But I suspect that the vast majority of people with high blood pressure have never been infected with herpes.
No, the cause of hypertension for the majority of sufferers is considered ‘unknown’. Which probably means genetic factors are involved.