The risk of having a heart attack for HIV-positive people increases the longer they’re on anti-HIV drug therapy, according to the latest results of a large multi-center study.
However, the overall absolute risk of a heart attack is still “modest,” Dr. Jens Lundgren of the University of Copenhagen told an audience at the 12th Annual Retroviral Conference on Wednesday.Lundgren updated findings from an ongoing study that has collected data from HIV-infected patients at 11 sites in the US, Australia and Europe. The latest analysis includes data collected between 1999 and 2004 for more than 23,400 participants who had been on combination antiretroviral drugs for an average of 4.5 years.During the study period, 277 patients had a first heart attack. Although not a large percentage, Lundgren noted that the patients in the study are young, with an average age of just 39 years.After accounting for other potential risk factors, the researchers observed a 17 percent increase in heart attack risk for each year of combination antiretroviral therapy.The risk appears to be comparable in men and women and in older and younger patients, Lundgren noted.While cholesterol contributed to the likelihood of having a heart attack, it did not account for all of the increased risk in these patients.”The totality of risk factors for cardiovascular disease determines risk,” the researcher noted. Therefore, control of conventional risk factors can to some extent counteract the effects of combination anti-HIV therapy, he said.”As HIV-infected patients are growing older, it will be increasingly important to modify their cardiovascular risk profile,” he concluded.(Source: 12th Annual Retroviral Conference: Reuters Health: Deborah Mitchell: February 2005.)