WHAT IS THE HEART ATTACK GERM? Over the past several years, numerous scientific studies have shown that people infected by a several common germs are at a significantly increased risk for stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems, including the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Most strokes and heart attacks are associated with atherosclerosis, the disease that deposits cholesterol plaque inside the arteries of the heart and brain. Until recently, the cause of atherosclerosis was a mystery. But new advances in technology have identified inflammation within the artery as the source of plaque build-up. Often, this inflammation is caused by germs that infect the arteries of the heart and brain. Although several cardiovascular germs have been identified, most of the research has centered on the Heart Attack Germ, Chlamydia pneumoniae—a type of bacteria that is the chief suspect behind many strokes and heart attacks. Here's how the Heart Attack Germ does its dirty work: Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria enter the body through the mouth and nose, infecting the lungs and causing respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Chlamydia pneumoniae is a very common germ—nearly everyone at some point in his life becomes infected by it. Usually, the initial infection is so mild that the victim never even knows that he's picked up the germ. To cure the infection, the body uses immune cells in the lungs, which surround the germs, swallow them whole, and kill them. But the Heart Attack Germ is difficult to kill and may actually live and multiply inside immune cells. That's why most Chlamydia pneumoniae infections last a long time—the body is never able to completely eliminate the germ. Immune cells exit the lungs, carrying the living Chlamydia germs through the bloodstream and into the arteries of the heart and brain. Once inside an artery, the germs multiply, damaging the artery wall and creating long-term infection and inflammation. This constant, low level of infection and inflammation produces no obvious symptoms. The victim is sick, but he doesn't know it ... yet. Since cholesterol plaque is naturally drawn to the site of inflammation, long-term infection and inflammation continually draws cholesterol plaque to the artery over an extended period of time. As the years pass by, layer after layer of plaque is deposited in the artery. These layers build into mounds of cholesterol that clog the artery, creating the symptoms of cardiovascular disease and the sudden occlusions that trigger most strokes and heart attacks.