HIV infection wears down the body and immune system in various ways. The rist of heart attack also seems to be higher. “Current methods to predict the risk of heart attack and stroke vastly underestimate the risk in individuals with HIV, which is nearly double that of the general population, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.
“The actual risk of heart attack for people with HIV was roughly 50 percent higher than predicted by the risk calculator many physicians use for the general population,” said first author Dr. Matthew Feinstein, a cardiovascular disease fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The study was published Dec. 21 in JAMA Cardiology. The higher risk for heart attack — about 1.5 to two times greater — exists even in people whose virus is undetectable in their blood because of antiretroviral drugs. Accurately predicting an individual’s risk helps determine whether he or she should take medications such as statins to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
“If you have a higher risk for heart attack or stroke, your ability to benefit from one of these drugs is greater and justifies the possible side effects of a medication,” Feinstein said. A new predictive algorithm may need to be developed to determine the actual risk for heart attack and stroke in people with HIV, he noted. An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV with 35 million to 40 million infected worldwide.”
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