Dec 7, 2003
I recently saw on the T.V news about antiviral drugs and how they are related to heart disease, what is the probability that someone can have heart problems?
Response from Dr. Young
The issue with heart disease and HIV and/or HIV medications is quite controversial.
Suffice to say that we do know that some HIV medications can cause elevations in cholesterol and triglycerides (chemicals related to increased heart disease risk)-- these meds include most protease inhibitors (with the exception of atazanavir) and to a lesser degree, efavirenz and stavudine.
The degree to which these elevations are the direct cause of increased risk of heart disease in our community is less clear. Some studies show increased risk and others don't-- differences in the frequency of other heart disease risk factors likely affect these rates.
My take is that there are multiple factors that increase heart disease risk- these include drug-related increases in cholesterol, but also include other modifiable factors, like diet, exercise, blood pressure, diabetes and (yes) tobacco use. Indeed, reduction in tobacco consumption can cause a reduction of risk that is equal or greater than that associated with reduction in cholesterol-- meaning to me that considerable focus should be directed to tobacco as much as "blaming" HIV medications in this risk. BY
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