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Malaria infection linked to 30% increased risk of heart failure – study

The paper is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

(Jim Gathany /CDC)
(Jim Gathany /CDC)

By Jemma Crew, PA Health and Science Correspondent

People who contract malaria are around 30% more likely to experience heart failure, a study has suggested.

Researchers in Denmark used nationwide registries to identify of 3,970 malaria cases between 1994 and 2017.

The 11-year follow-up of patients revealed 69 cases of heart failure, which the paper said was very high compared to the general population.

Dr Philip Brainin, a postdoctoral research fellow at Herlev-Gentofte University Hospital, Denmark, said: “I think these findings are quite interesting not only from an epidemiological perspective but also from the medical perspective.

“If malaria is potentially linked to cardiac disease it could represent a therapeutic target we could use to control and prevent cardiac disease in these regions.”

The paper is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress on Monday.

The authors said the study size was relatively small, which was a limitation, meaning the findings should be seen as “hypothesis-generating for future studies.”

They did not find a link to increased risk of heart attack or cardiovascular death.

More research is needed to validate the findings, they added.

The mosquito-borne infection affects more than 219 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Previous studies have shown that malaria could contribute to changes in the myocardium, the muscle tissue of the heart.

It may also affect the system regulating blood pressure, leading to hypertension, and can also affect vascular pathways that cause inflammation in the heart.

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