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Staying Heart-Healthy
AIDS Treatment Initiatives

By Kelly Williams, R.D., L.D.

August 2002

It may seem strange to completely switch gears and talk about something besides just HIV for a change, but it all fits together. HIV is increasingly bringing to the table risk factors for other diseases and conditions -- among them, heart disease.

The increasing prevalence of many of these risk factors may be due in part to the virus itself, but are also associated with the use of HIV medications, anabolics, and lipodystrophy syndrome (LDS). High cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high glucose (blood sugar) can be the result.

Compounding the problem are several factors, some of which can be controlled, and some of which cannot. Common risk factors for heart disease include family history, age, gender, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol/triglycerides, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight. Obviously, family history, age, and gender cannot be controlled. However, the rest of the risk factors can be controlled -- to a large extent -- by you!

It is important to realize that controlling these risk factors can be crucial to your healthcare. Unfortunately, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high glucose can persuade your doctor to change a medication regimen that might be working for you. This can put you at risk for developing a resistance to those drugs or classes of drugs. If you can control these lab values with the right regimen of diet and exercise, it may mean that you are able to stay on your current HAART treatment longer!


Diet


Exercise




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