WASHINGTON, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Men with long-term HIV infections are at a greater risk for a heart attack than their uninfected peers, a new U.S. study said Tuesday.
Previous studies have suggested a link between HIV infection and heart disease, but the results have been inconclusive.
In the new study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and other institutes looked at 618 HIV-infected men and 383 uninfected ones in the Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles areas.
All the participants were 40 to 70 years old and had had no prior surgery to restore blood flow to the coronary arteries.
The researchers found those who had more advanced HIV and longer treatment with highly active antiretroviral treatment ( HAART), a commonly prescribed HIV drug cocktail, were more likely to have plaque buildup in their heart arteries and also abnormal narrowing of blood vessels known as stenosis.
Plaque buildup in the arteries that nourish the heart and stenosis are conditions that can increase the risk of heart attack, the researchers said.
The findings are important, they said, because advances in treatment have led to long-term survival of people living with HIV/ AIDS and the emergence of chronic, age-related heart and other diseases among this group of people.
These results also emphasize the importance of assessing and modifying traditional heart risk factors in this population, especially in men with more advanced HIV, according to the study published in the U.S. journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Their future studies will investigate whether earlier treatment with HAART might cut the risk of heart disease in people with HIV, the researchers added.