The National Institutes of Health released a study on Monday that showed HIV-infected men have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to more common and extensive buildup of soft plaque in the arteries.
The study revealed that a coronary artery blockage was most common among HIV-infected men whose immune health had declined the most, and who had taken anti-HIV drugs the longest. The research group placed these men at an even higher risk for heart attack.
"These findings from the largest study of its kind tell us that men with HIV infection are at increased risk for the development of coronary artery disease and should discuss with a care provider the potential need for cardiovascular risk factor screening and appropriate risk reduction strategies," Gary Gibbons, the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said that due to effective treatments, people with HIV have been able to live into their 50s, and are dying of non-AIDS-related causes, such as heart disease.
"Consequently, the prevention and treatment of non-infectious chronic diseases in people with HIV infection has become an increasingly important focus of our research," Fauci said.
The study received funding from NIAID, NHLBI and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, all of which are part of NIH.