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Diabetes drug halts atherosclerosis progression in HIV-infected patients
Date:3/7/2012

Treatment with the common diabetes drug metformin appears to prevent progression of coronary atherosclerosis in patients infected with HIV. In a presentation today at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers reported that study participants receiving daily doses of metformin had essentially no progression of coronary artery calcification during the year-long study period, while participants receiving a placebo had calcium increases of up to 50 percent. The study also found that lifestyle modification participation in regular exercise and dietary counseling sessions did not have a significant effect on calcification, although it did improve several cardiovascular risk factors.

"HIV-infected patients are known to have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and elevations in traditional risk factors such as insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels and hypertension," says Steven Grinspoon, MD, director of the Program in Nutritional Metabolism in the MGH Neuroendocrine Unit, the study's principal investigator. "This is the first demonstration of a therapy that is effective in preventing progression of coronary calcium in patients infected with HIV."

Several large epidemiologic studies have found that HIV-infected individuals have approximately twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as non-infected individuals in the same demographic groups. Between 20 and 40 percent of HIV-infected patients meet the diagnostic definition for metabolic syndrome a cluster of symptoms including abdominal obesity, abnormal HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and abnormal glucose levels, and elevated blood pressure which is known to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Factors behind these symptoms probably include side effects of antiviral medications and the effects of HIV itself on fat distribution, cholestero
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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