People living with HIV face premature heart disease and barriers to care

Human Chest Cavity illustration: Right lung, left lung, heart

American Heart Association Scientific Statement

Effective antiretroviral therapy has changed the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from a progressive, fatal disease to a chronic, manageable condition that is associated with higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, sudden cardiac deaths, and other diseases compared to people without HIV, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association published in the Association journal Circulation.

People living with HIV are at increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases because of interactions between traditional risk factors, such as diet, lifestyle and tobacco use, and HIV-specific risk factors, such as a chronically activated immune system and inflammation characteristic of chronic HIV.

Tobacco use, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, is common among people living with HIV. In a nationally representative U.S. sample, 42% of people living with HIV were current smokers. Heavy alcohol use, substance abuse, mood and anxiety disorders, low levels of physical activity and poor cardiorespiratory fitness are also common among people living with HIV and may contribute to elevated risk for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, according to the statement.

Read Full Article