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Increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients may relate to arterial inflammation
Date:7/22/2012

The elevated risk of cardiovascular disease seen in patients infected with HIV appears to be associated with increased inflammation within the arteries, according to a study that will appear in a special issue of JAMA published in conjunction with the International AIDS Conference. The report from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that levels of inflammation within the aortas of HIV-infected individuals with neither known cardiovascular disease nor elevated traditional risk factors were comparable to those of patients with established cardiovascular disease.

"Several recent studies, including ones that we've done, have found that HIV-infected patients have about twice the risk of heart attack and stroke as non-infected individuals do," says Steven Grinspoon, MD, director of the MGH Program in Nutritional Metabolism and a member of the Neuroendocrine Unit, the study's principal investigator. "These new data suggest a plausible mechanism through which increased arterial inflammation related to activation of the immune system may increase the risk of cardiovascular events in these patients."

While traditional risk factors such as accumulation of abdominal fat, smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels have been thought to contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients, investigators also have theorized that inflammation may play a role as well. Previous evidence suggesting an association was based on measurements of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein in the bloodstream, but the current study is the first to provide direct evidence of increased inflammation in the arterial walls of patients with HIV.

The investigators, including Ahmed Tawakol, MD, co-director of the MGH Cardiac MR-PET-CT Program, analyzed the results of PET and CT scans of 81 participants: 27 HIV-infected individuals without known cardiovascular disease, all receiving antiretroviral therapy; 27
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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