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PI equals heart damage
Nov 17, 2003

Dr. Young,

How are researchers working to fix this?


Risk of Myocardial Infarction Increases with Duration of Protease Inhibitor Therapy in HIV Positive Men

Several class-specific metabolic effects of PI therapy may have a deleterious effect on the heart, including increased insulin resistance, abnormalities of lipid metabolism, and a lipodystrophy syndrome .

HAART has occasionally been implicated in the aggravation of coronary heart disease and other vascular complications. However, the impact of PI on the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and myocardial infarction (MI) in particular remains controversial.

In the current context of dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia and lipodystrophy observed among HIV positive subjects, it is important to study the risk of MI in this population.

The French Hospital Database on HIV, which includes a large number of seropositive subjects followed for substantial periods, offers the opportunity to analyze the impact of protease inhibitors (PI) on the risk of MI among men.

Cox model was used to study the risk factors of MI occurrence. Standardized morbidity ratios (SMR) in men exposed to PI were calculated with data from the French general male population (FGMP) of the same age as reference.

Study Results

Between 1996 and 1999, MI was diagnosed in 60 men among 88 029 person-years (PY), including 49 cases among men exposed to PI. In the Cox model, exposure to PI was associated with a higher risk of MI. The expected incidence in the FGMP was 10.8/10 000 PY.

The SMR relative to the FGMP was 0.8 for men exposed to PI for < 18 months (G1), 1.5 for men exposed for 18-29 months (G2) and 2.9 for men exposed for 30 months (G3). With G1 as reference, the SMR was 1.9 for G2 and 3.6 for G3.

The results point to a duration-related effect relationship between PI and MI, with a higher MI incidence rate among men exposed to PI for 18 months or more.


The risk of MI in HIV-infected men increased with the duration of PI treatment, while other classes of drug treatment did not associate with MI risk.

However, the increase in life expectancy conferred by HAART clearly outweighs the associated risk of MI. In keeping with preliminary guidelines, the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) must be taken into account in PI treatment decisions, especially for patients with known risk factors for CHD.

Cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels must be determined before and regularly during HAART in order to diagnose any abnormalities as they occur. If lipid-lowering drug therapy is indicated, it should be limited to those agents with a low risk of interaction with antiretroviral drugs.

Longer follow-up under PI is necessary to observe if the risk of MI will continue to increase with the duration of PI exposure, and further studies are necessary to confirm the impact of NNRTI on CHD occurrence as observed in the DAD study.


Reference M Mary-Krause and others. Increased risk of myocardial infarction with duration of protease inhibitor therapy in HIV-infected men. AIDS 17(17): 2479-2486. November 21, 2003.

Response from Dr. Young

This whole issue is quite controversial, and I'm not willing to make the link as certain as you assert.

Nevertheless, to the extent that some PIs or PI combinations raise cholesterol, recent developments in PIs have definitely shown improvment. Atazanavir, for example causes very little or no increase in the heart diease-related cholesterol or triglycerides. So in short, yes, researchers are working hard to better understand, prevent and treat heart disease. BY

alternate for 4dt .
15 years?

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