HIV / AIDS And Heart Disease

In the past, it was thought that if an individual had contracted HIV that their lifespan would be an average of 8 to 10 years and then they would eventually die of AIDS. However, with a growing armentarium of HIV medications called HAART (highly active antiretrovirals therapies), many of these patients are living more than 10 years and perhaps even 15-20 years minimum. In many ways, if patients are closely followed by an HIV specialist in a teritary center, these patients will be able to live with HIV/AIDS for a long time and their disease will now be more of a chronic disease. With you can look at the factors that you should consider when you are suffering from HIV. You are easily prone to several other diseases as your immunity gets weaker day by day. You should take immediate steps to make sure that you boost your immunity as much as you can.

The success of treating HIV/AIDS has led to a new set of problems that the cardiologist have grown to see, which are more likely to lead to death in these patients. Patients with HIV/AIDS are more and more likely to die of coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart failure than HIV/AIDS. There are many reasons for the latter problems, but it is thought to be a combination of factors that have led to this new disease phenomona in HIV/AIDS patients.

HIV/AIDS in itself has an inflammatory effect on the coronary arteries, which has been shown to increase the likely hood of plaque buildup and endothelial dysfunction, which basically means that the disease effects the arteries of the heart and the rest of the body to a level in which they are no longer healthy. HIV/AIDS is also known to increase the risk for cardiomyopathy (heart failure); it is unclear of the mechanism for this problem, but it could be due to prior heart attacks or idiopathic (unknown) reasons.

HIV/AIDS patients who are on HAART medications, especially the protease inhibitors, are known to have very elevated cholesterol levels, which will increase their risk for heart attacks and coronary artery disease. These patients need to be aggressively treated with cholesterol medications such as statins. In fact, I would argue that most patients with HIV/AIDS should be on statin therapy, although, the current recommendations do not recommend this because the research is still lacking on this issue.

HIV/AIDS patients also tend to have other comorbidities, which increase their risk for coronary artery disease and heart failure, which include hypertension, diabetes, and as already mentioned dyslipidemia. These patients may also smoke cigarettes, which would increase their risk for worsening heart disease as in all individuals who smoke cigarettes. If they smoke marijuana or abuse drugs such as cocaine, this would also increase their risk for heart disease (see prior articles on these topics).

In conclusion, patients with HIV/AIDS have done quite well in regards to surviving this deadly disease because of significant advances in the HAART medications and the research in this field, which have made this disease into a chronic disease. However, many of these patients unfortunately may now succumb from heart disease and heart failure. I believe all of these patients should be referred to a cardiologist or internist who specializes in cardiac care. They should be aggressively treated for high blood pressure, elevated ch9olesterol and should be counseled on appropriate low fat and sugar diets as well as tobacco and drug cessation.

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