People living with HIV are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD), particularly heart failure and stroke, warn researchers.
“Our findings reinforce the importance of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease through control of risk factors such as high blood pressure or smoking in persons living with HIV,” said study lead author Alvaro Alonso from Emory University in the US.
Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study analysed information from a large health insurance database.
For the study, researchers analysed information on 19,798 people living with HIV and 59,302 age- and sex-matched non-infected individuals who were followed for an average of 20 months.
According to the researchers, people living with HIV had 3.2 times and 2.7 times higher risks of heart failure and stroke, respectively, when compared to non-infected persons.
The association of HIV infection with cardiovascular disease was especially strong for persons younger than 50 years of age and those without a prior history of CVD, said the study.
Researchers have identified new mutations in Genes that is commonly associated with non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (NIDC), a disease that weakens the heart muscle, making it more difficult to adequately circulate blood to meet the body’s needs.
Patients with NIDC struggle because the heart’s ability to pump blood is decreased, as the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and dilated.
Unlike other kinds of heart conditions, NIDC often isn’t related to or a symptom or sign of a known cardiovascular disease or disease risk factor.
In the study, researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in the US, have identified 22 mutations in 27 of 229 NIDC patients in a gene called TITIN — 15 of them not previously discovered.
These TITIN mutations are of a type called “truncating variants”, or TTN-tv, which are linked with the development of cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
“Truncating mutations in TITIN are common in NIDC, so we wanted to know: if we find one, should we be more, or less worried about the patient’s prognosis? The answer is yes,” said principal investigator of the study Jeffrey L. Anderson.
In the study, the DNA samples of the 229 Intermountain patients diagnosed with NIDC were analysed.
Researchers also identified lifestyle, environmental and other disease factors documented in the medical records that are associated with heart problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or previous chemotherapy treatment.
Patients were evaluated when they first presented and then were followed for five years.
Patients with a TTN-tv mutation more often had severe cardiomyopathy at presentation, and by five years they were less likely to have recovered (11 per cent of those with a mutation versus 30 per cent of those without).
These patients also were more likely to have shown progressive disease, such as a heart transplant, implant of a permanent heart assist device, or death if they had a TTN-tv mutation (41 per cent) than if they didn’t (25 per cent).