Impaired blood vessel and kidney function underlie heart disease risk in people with HIV

December 17, 2020

DALLAS, Dec. 17, 2020 -- People living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have impaired blood vessel function, which increases cardiovascular disease risk, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association's journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB). The connection between impaired blood vessel function and cardiovascular disease was especially strong among people with HIV and kidney disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, however, the reasons for the strong association have not been clear. This study shows a correlation between HIV and impaired blood vessels, even when HIV is well-controlled.

"People living with HIV infection need to be vigilant about heart disease prevention. They cannot assume that their heart and blood vessel disease risk is low because their infection is controlled," said study author James H. Stein, M.D., the Robert Turell Professor in Cardiovascular Research at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wisconsin.

Stein and colleagues measured brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, a measure of endothelial function, in participants from 9 studies. The studies included 986 adults living with HIV and 1,547 who did not have the virus.

The analysis revealed:"We also did not expect such a large effect from kidney function on HIV patients' endothelial health," said Stein. "Even mild kidney disease might play a role in HIV-associated cardiovascular disease risk."

Researchers measured blood vessel function and not heart attacks, which could be a study limitation, noted Stein. "The test we used quantifies blood vessel dysfunction that could predict bad outcomes, but the results are not a bad outcome on their own."

"Regardless," he said, "people can protect their kidneys and prevent cardiovascular disease by doing such things as controlling blood pressure and preventing diabetes."
Co-authors are Noah Kime, B.S.; Claudia E. Korcarz, D.V.M.; Heather Ribaudo, Ph.D.; Judith S. Currier, M.D., M.P.H.; and Joseph C. Delaney, Ph.D. Author disclosures are in the manuscript.

This study was funded by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health funded the studies that provided the health information used for the analyses in this study.

Additional Resources:

Available multimedia is on right column of release link -

After 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, view the manuscript online.

People living with HIV face premature heart risk and barriers to care - AHA Statement
HIV doubles heart disease risk - News Archive

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Follow news from the AHA's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) journal @atvbahajournals

Statements and conclusions of studies published in the American Heart Association's scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association's policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers are available here, and the Association's overall financial information is available here.

About the American Heart Association

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