Heart disease is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality. Cardiovascular disease, most of which occurs secondary to atherosclerosis, accounted for more than one-third of all deaths in Australia in 2006, and this is likely to increase as the population ages and the incidence of diabetes rises. Ongoing research has led to the development of international guidelines for the prevention and treatment of ischaemic heart disease (IHD). Recent research has highlighted the inflammatory basis of atherosclerosis and provided hope of new therapeutic targets in IHD, including treatments able to cause disease regression. This paper will review the role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of heart disease. Recent research on the interaction between the immune system and heart disease has focused on the role of T lymphocytes in coronary heart disease. This paper will focus on immunity and atherosclerosis. In addition, we will review the cellular mechanisms by which lymphocytes may injure the myocardium and cause disease.
- Ischaemic heart disease
- T lymphocytes