HIV and Heart Disease

HIV and heart disease seem to go hand in hand. It’s very common for an HIV-positive person to present with some form of cardiac disease. Just why this is and how it happens, however, has remained somewhat of a mystery. In order to help clarify why this is so, a study was conducted to see if HIV and the heart were actually related or if it was all just coincidental.

One theory as to why heart diseases such as hypertension and HIV are commonly seen together is that HIV tends to trigger an inflammatory response. This adversely affects the vascular system when it becomes a chronic issue. In order to gauge the factors that contribute to this, a study followed 65 HIV-positive patients. All participants had shortness of breath to some degree, and each was given an echocardiogram to determine his or her cardiac functions. After the tests and other risk factors were taken into consideration, it was noted that nearly half of the participants had some form of cardiac dysfunction or disease.

A review of the findings revealed some interesting pieces of information. Gender, age and whether or not AIDS was present had little to no effect on the level of cardiac dysfunction a patient had. The variable that seemed the most conclusive involved the amount of viral load in the blood. Patients with a high viral load were those with the most progressive level of heart disease. Those who had limited or undetectable traces of infection fared much better. The latter presented with no disease, or with heart disease that was just at the beginning stages.

Conclusive evidence exists that HIV, especially one presenting a high viral load in the blood, is directly related to the presence of heart disease. Armed with this knowledge, the medical community can, therefore, screen patients with HIV for heart disease and use viral load as an indicator for the probability of the development of cardiac dysfunction.