News in Brief: HIV may increase heart attack risk

In large study of veterans, infected men had higher chance of the condition than did men without virus

Having HIV may boost a man’s risk of heart attack, a study of more than 82,000 veterans suggests.

Researchers analyzed information on the vets, 97 percent of whom were men, between 2003 and 2009. The scientists excluded anyone who had heart disease at the outset, and then tracked the others, recording 871 heart attacks. About 1.34 percent of the HIV-positive group had a heart attack during 5.9 years of follow-up, compared with 0.92 percent of the others. After accounting for factors that could affect cardiac health — including smoking, cholesterol levels and substance abuse — the HIV patients’ risk of heart attack was about 1.5 times that seen in the non-HIV group.

Physician Matthew Freiberg of the University of Pittsburgh and his colleagues don’t yet know the mechanism by which HIV seems to increase heart attack risk, but they suggest that inflammation, depleted immune T cells and antiretroviral therapy somehow contribute to it. There were not enough women in the study to assess whether HIV affects their heart attack risk. The report appears in the March 4 JAMA Internal Medicine.

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