The UCLA CARE Center has studies exploring new ways of preventing and treating heart disease among people living with HIV. If you are interested in participating in any cardiovascular studies at UCLA CARE, please scroll down to the bottom.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, is a broad term used to describe medical conditions that affect the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular). Examples of major cardiovascular diseases are coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease; about half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease, including:
CVD is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US, especially among African-Americans, Hispanics, and whites.
Cardiovascular disease is a growing concern for people living with HIV. Since antiretroviral therapy (ART) has become more effective and safe, people with HIV are living longer than ever before with nearly 47% of Americans with HIV aged 50 or older. This means that nearly half of people with HIV have an increased age-based risk of cardiovascular disease, just like their HIV-negative peers.
HIV itself can increase the risk. Untreated, a high HIV viral load has been linked to cardiovascular disease. HIV-positive people not on ART have been shown to have lower “good” HDL cholesterol and higher triglycerides (blood fat) than people without HIV. Additionally, the body’s response to the presence of HIV – inflammation – can gradually damage heart and blood vessel tissue, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease as well.
Some antiretroviral medications can also lead to cardiovascular disease; for example, some protease inhibitors (PIs) have been linked to side effects that can cause higher cholesterol and triglycerides. However, overall, it is still recommended to start ART earlier to avoid long-term cardiovascular damage by an active viral load (see SMART study).
Each person’s risk profile is unique to their medical history and lifestyle. Talk with your medical provider about managing your heart health to make a plan that is appropriate for you. Here are a couple of quick tips:
If you are interested in participating in any cardiovascular studies at UCLA CARE, please follow the links below to learn more:
REPRIEVE, a research study to see if an FDA-approved medication, pitavistatin, can prevent heart disease in people living with HIV.
AMGEN, a study evaluating the efficacy of an experimental, injectable drug in HIV-positive individuals with high cholesterol.
CTSI-PLACE, a study to try to understand if having Hep C makes people with HIV more likely to have heart disease.