Synonyms: Systemic inflammation
Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Geriatrics
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection, a key part of the natural defense and healing process. The affected body part typically becomes swollen, red and warm. This defends the body from bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders, helping to repair tissue that has been damaged or to remove debris. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, smoldering at a low level, or misdirected, it is not a healthy or normal condition.
Inflammation that occurs in response to infection or injury is healthy, even lifesaving. However, when it becomes chronic, low-grade inflammation – perhaps as a result of obesity, fast food, smoking, sleep deprivation, or even the stress of modern life – it becomes an unhealthy state that is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, depression, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.