People Living With HIV Have a Higher Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

HIV can increase the risk of heart diseases when not managed properly. Read more details here.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 30, 2022 10:10 IST
People Living With HIV Have a Higher Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

According to recent estimates, there are currently 34 million HIV-positive patients globally, 90% of whom live in developing countries. However, cardiovascular complications are now a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the HIV-infected population, having a 50% increased risk of AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction) and post discharge adverse cardiac events. “Living well with HIV requires self-care and extra safety measures to ensure overall health, avoiding STDs, and other infections,” says Dr. Anbu Pandian, Medical Advisor at Agatsa. Adopting a lifestyle to better manage your heart health when you have HIV is more important than ever.

HIV & Heart Disease

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus-infected individuals are more likely to develop heart disease. Coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease) is the most common type of heart disease that acts as the leading cause of death worldwide. The majority of heart problems are caused by plaque buildup in the artery walls, which restricts blood flow. Over time, plaque buildup in the coronary arteries reduces blood flow to the heart, resulting in chest pain (angina), irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), heart valve problems, palpitations, heart attacks, and strokes.

Why does HIV Increase Cardiovascular Risks and How?

Possessing HIV is no longer a fatal illness but a treatable condition. However, heart disease seems to be more prevalent in those with the virus who live into old age. HIV-positive individuals are more prone to heart risks than others due to factors including smoking, hypertension, obesity, etc. Patients who get more consistent antiretroviral therapy (ART) are liable to better heart health than those who take breaks from the treatment. Thus, the odds of a heart attack or stroke in an HIV-positive individual is 1.5 to 2 times higher than in people without HIV.

How can people living with HIV lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases?

Given the high prevalence of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the HIV-infected population, it is now a top priority to manage dyslipidemia and hypertension as well as to provide counselling for behaviour changes, such as quitting smoking and restricting the use of illicit drugs.

To lower their chance of developing cardiovascular diseases, they may take these precautions:

  • Take HIV medications daily to keep HIV under control.
  • Consume a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking and drinking
  • Do not miss medical visits
  • Inculcate a physical activity in daily routine
  • Regularly monitor the heart health to detect any risk without delay

Inculcating a few healthy habits such as regular monitoring and early detection with a portable device like SanketLife in your daily schedule; would help to strongly manage the cardiac risks associated with HIV.

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