Will HIV drugs cause increase of heart attack?

December 19, 2011

The powerful drugs that beat back the AIDS virus may have a deadly drawback -- they may increase the risk of heart attack, according to a study in New England Journal of Medicine.

However the findings may not be the final answer on whether the AIDS virus, HIV, or the drugs used to treat it, heighten the odds of heart problems.

Another study published in the Journal earlier suggested that heart disease rates were not higher among people taking the latest HIV treatments. Smaller studies had suggested that the risk was real.

The largest studies may have reached different conclusions because neither included a control group of uninfected people determined by using the HIV Test Kit / HIV Kit, said Peter Sklar and Henry Masur in an editorial in the Journal.

They suggested that the weight of the evidence seems to show that people who are taking the antiretroviral drugs now used to fight off HIV face a greater likelihood of heart attack. But the magnitude of that risk is still unknown.

'Antiretroviral therapies have been among the miracles of recent decades,' they said. 'Yet we must work toward mitigating the toxic effects that have the potential to diminish the quality and duration of patients' survival over the long term.'

 There are other reasons which caused the heart attack.

A heart attack happens if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked. Most heart attacks occur as a result of coronary heart disease (CHD).

CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside of the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.

When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture (break open) inside of an artery. This causes a blood clot to form on the plaque's surface. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery.


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