People with HIV at greater risk for developing heart disease, new research suggests

HIV puts individuals at higher risk for developing several chronic diseases, one of them being coronary artery disease (CAD). Medical professionals know this but haven’t been able to pinpoint the underlying reasons that contribute to the development of the disease. But new research delves into why and how CAD can develop.

Hossein Bahrami, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, was the lead author on the study. He worked with scientists from Johns Hopkins University and five other institutions on the study, which was published June 27 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Bahrami and his team studied 923 men, 575 of whom had HIV, from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. They used computed tomography angiography technology to look for signs of subclinical CAD, things like narrowed arteries and high amounts of plaque.

Participates were also examined for the presence of seven inflammatory biomarkers.

The researchers found that men with HIV had significantly higher levelers of interleukin-6, intercellular adhesions molecule-1, C-reactive protein and soluble-tumor necrosis factor-x receptor, all inflammatory biomarkers. Additionally, they found a higher prevalence of plaque in men with HIV.

There was also a strong and independent association between the presence of the inflammatory biomarkers and subclinical CAD picked up by the CT scan, suggesting that persistent inflammation may increase one’s risk of developing heart disease.

“Higher inflammatory marker levels are associated with greater prevalence of coronary stenosis in HIV-positive men,” the authors wrote in the study. “Our findings underscore the need for further study to elucidate the relationships of inflammatory pathways with coronary artery disease in HIV-positive individuals.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.