infection with HIV is associated with an increased risk of thickening of the
carotid artery – an important early warning sign of cardiovascular disease.
A number of studies have shown that people with HIV have an
increased risk of cardiovascular
diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
There’s uncertainty about the causes, but they may include
of some anti-HIV drugs, traditional risk factors such as smoking,
diet, age, and the inflammatory
effects of HIV infection.
However, it’s been difficult to untangle the exact causes
because these risk factors are so prevalent in people with HIV.
Therefore French researchers designed a carefully controlled
study that involved HIV-positive patients who were taking treatment; patients
who weren’t yet on therapy; and HIV-negative people. They were well matched for
other characteristics, and none smoked.
The researchers monitored thickness of the carotid artery.
This gives an indication of hardening of the arteries, an important symptom of
Thickening of this artery was strongly associated with
longer duration of infection with HIV.
Another risk factor was a poor anti-inflammatory response by
the immune system.
US research showed that infection with HIV increases the risk of heart
attack by 40% and the risk of any cardiovascular disease by 20%.
It involved almost 250,000 patients; approximately 10% were
A low CD4 cell count and age both increased the risk of