HIV may put you at a higher risk of heart failure: Study

A new study hints at a link between increased likelihood of a heart failure if a person has HIV. Know all about it and the signs you shouldn't ignore.
heart problems in women
Awareness about signs and symptoms of a heart ailment is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Updated: 16 Dec 2021, 10:10 am IST
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We already know that HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is known to attack cells and make a person very vulnerable to other infections and diseases. Now a new study indicates that people with HIV are more susceptible to a heart failure.

The findings, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, is based on a study to investigate heart failure risk in people with HIV and how that risk varies by age, gender, race and ethnicity.

“Cardiovascular disease has been an important concern for people with HIV for many, many years,” said the study’s senior author Michael J. Silverberg, PhD, MPH, a research scientist and HIV epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

“Most of the research in this area has focused on the risk of stroke and heart attacks. With this study, we now see the cardiovascular impacts for people with HIV extend to end-stage conditions such as heart failure.”

Research findings about higher incidence of heart failure among people with HIV

Silverberg and his colleagues identified 38,868 people with HIV who were Kaiser Permanente members between 2000 and 2016 in one of 3 regions: Northern California, Southern California, and the Mid-Atlantic States. Next, they matched each person with up to 10 Kaiser Permanente members from the corresponding region who were the same age, gender, and race but did not have HIV; this group included 386,586 people. Lastly, they identified the people in both groups who had developed heart failure during follow-up.

Also Read: The ABC of HIV tests and screening

HIV and heart
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people’s defense against many infections. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The study included 38,868 people with HIV and 386,586 without HIV. It found that people with HIV were 68 percent more likely to develop heart failure than people who did not have HIV. Also, people who were age 40 or younger, female, or of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity were at the highest risk.

What’s interesting is that the higher heart failure risk was not because people with HIV had more risk factors for heart disease or just experienced more heart attacks. In fact, there was a higher prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease among those without HIV.

As per the researchers, the study highlights why it is important for people with HIV and their healthcare providers to be aware that shortness of breath, fatigue, leg swelling, coughing, and chest pain can be signs of early heart failure.

“It is possible that signs and symptoms of heart failure may be missed, resulting in delays in treatment,” said Silverberg.

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(With inputs from ANI)

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