Experts Discuss Cardiovascular Risks in HIV/AIDS Patients

As HIV patients live longer, coronary heart disease is an increasing cause of mortality

FRIDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- The success of antiretroviral drugs has enabled HIV-infected patients to live longer, but recent studies indicate that they are at higher risk of coronary heart disease, which is now a leading cause of death in this population, according to the proceedings of an American Heart Association scientific conference on the topic, published online June 19 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Steven K. Grinspoon, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a conference co-chair, along with a multidisciplinary group of academic and government experts, met from June 28 to 30, 2007, to discuss the relationship between HIV-infected patients and cardiovascular disease, focusing on key questions: metabolic changes that can affect the heart; the relationship of antiretroviral therapies to cardiovascular disease; the effects of antiretroviral therapy and HIV infection to the heart and vasculature; the screening and evaluation of heart disease in HIV patients; the development of appropriate cardiovascular risk prediction models for this population; and prevention strategies for heart disease.

Scientists are in the early stages of understanding the degree to which increasing rates of cardiovascular disease in HIV/AIDS patients may be caused by the impact of the disease and its treatments on the body, conference leaders write. Dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, inflammation and changes in body composition may be related to the HIV infection, or to toxicities associated with certain therapies, they note.

"Development of optimized screening, prediction, and treatment algorithms for cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients is of utmost importance. A critical need exists for more research in this area," the conference leaders conclude.

Bristol-Myers Squibb contributed an unrestricted educational grant to the conference. Several co-authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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