Analysis of global figures and published in the journal, Circulation, a new study states that patients infected with HIV are more likely to suffer from heart disease as compared to those unaffected by the deadly disease. HIV-associated cardiovascular disease has more than tripled in the past 20 years as more people are living longer with the virus.
The greatest impact of this has been in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific regions, with Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho particularly affected. This study, led by the University of Edinburgh in the UK will help target treatments facing the greatest risk of this. It will also help maximise resources in countries with limited healthcare funding. "This study has important implications when planning cardiovascular preventative policies in low resource countries where the burden of HIV remains high and that of cardiovascular disease is growing," said Anoop Shah, Clinical Lecturer in Cardiology at the University of Edinburgh.
The research conducted was inclusive of 800,000 people and found that the risk of cardiovascular disease among people living with HIV was double the rate among uninfected people. In some parts of the world, HIV also ranks alongside better-known risk factors - such as diet and lifestyle - as a major cause of heart disease.
Researchers claim that there are 35 million people infected with HIV worldwide and the number is only increasing. Scientists believe that the virus in HIV patients causes inflammation of blood vessels, which puts pressure on the cardiovascular system. "We now have clear evidence that your risk of heart and circulatory disease is doubled if you have HIV," said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation. "This news will have major public health implications globally, but particularly in developing countries in Africa where the burden of HIV is higher," said Pearson.