compared with just 5.3 percent of controls

 Ulcer Bug Strongly Linked to Irregular Heartbeat

Thursday , June 16, 2005

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The gastric microbe, Helicobacter pylori, that’s the cause of most stomach ulcers also takes it out on the heart, Italian investigators report.

They found that people with rapid beating of the upper chamber of the heart, PRPatrialfibrillation, are nearly 20 times more likely to be infected with Helicobacter than are healthy “controls,” according to a report in the medical journal Heart.

While the exact mechanism is unknown, Dr. A. S. Montenero, from Policlinico Multimedica in Milan, and colleagues theorize that it may relate to autoantibodies that develop in some H. pylori-infected patients. These antibodies, which normally attack an acid pump found on gastric cells, may instead attack a similar pump on cardiac cells, ultimately triggering atrial fibrillation.

The new findings are based on a study of H. pylori tests in 59 patients with atrial fibrillation and 45 healthy controls.

In the overall analysis, 97.2 percent of atrial fibrillation patients were positive for H. pylori compared with just 5.3 percent of controls.

While the link is “highly significant,” the investigators note that “more data will be necessary from controlled studies to further identify how H. pylori can influence the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation.”

SOURCE: Heart, July 2005.