FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Study finds HIV can cause structural heart disease

HIV causes structural heart disease and all HIV patients should receive cardiovascular screenings, according to research recently presented at EuroEcho-Imaging 2013

Nieves Montoro, a doctor from Madrid, Spain, presented the research during the conference, which is the official annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging. The conference took place in Istanbul, Turkey between Wednesday and Saturday.

Montoro and his colleagues conducted a study to evaluate if the stage of HIV or detectable blood viral load were related to the incidence of structural heart disease. HIV patients have a high incidence of heart conditions, including pulmonary hypertension and diastolic dysfunction.

Montoro's team found that having a detectable blood viral load increased the chances for heart disease.

"We found that half of HIV patients with dyspnea had echocardiographic evidence of structural heart disease," Montoro said. "Our most interesting finding was that patients with a positive blood viral load had a significantly higher incidence of structural heart disease. In fact, having a detectable blood viral load nearly doubled the prevalence of heart disease, suggesting that HIV itself might be an independent causal agent."

Montoro said the study showed an association between the presence of the virus in the blood and cardiac disease. She said the findings could show that HIV is involved in cardiac damage. Montoro pointed out that the study is a preliminary result and must be confirmed in further analyses.

"Because of the high incidence of cardiac problems in our study (almost 50 percent) we think that all HIV patients with dyspnoea should undergo a transthoracic echocardiogram to check for structural heart disease," Montoro said. "This is a non-invasive, cost-effective and accessible diagnostic test. Furthermore, patients with a positive blood viral load are at nearly twice the risk of structural heart disease and they should receive an echocardiogram whether they are symptomatic or not."