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Keep Your Ticker Tocking

As if Living With HIV Isn't Enough, It's Becoming Increasingly Clear That HIV-Positive People Have a Higher Risk of Heart Disease; Fortunately, There Are Many Things You Can Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Winter 2011

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Take Heart

Dr. Julian Falutz, director of the HIV Metabolic Centre at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, tells his patients: "You can get the most bang for your buck by quitting smoking. Also, find simple ways to be more active in your daily life. Park your car farther away from where you're going. Stop taking the elevator -- climb the stairs instead. ... You get the idea."

After three months of doing this, you may notice a change: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improved energy, weight loss. The key is to keep it up. Falutz notes that the temptation is to think after a few months: "I've done it. I kicked the habit: I've quit smoking. I can have one cigarette." Don't. Keep it up. The same goes for other lifestyle changes, too.

To empower his patients, Falutz points out that they've taken pills (ART) every day -- in some cases, for decades -- to keep their viral load undetectable. That takes commitment, work and discipline. "Don't short-change yourself. You can do it."

What Is Heart Disease?

Think of your heart as a pump that moves blood through blood vessels to different parts of your body. Heart disease includes a long list of conditions that affect your heart and/or blood vessels, such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysm (the ballooning of a blood vessel) and angina (when an artery that supplies blood to the heart becomes narrowed or blocked and can no longer deliver the blood and oxygen your heart needs).


From The Positive Side

  • "Inflammation Information" (Spring/Summer 2010) -- an article that explains how chronic inflammation can affect PHAs and may contribute to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease
  • "Up in Smoke" (Spring/Summer 2004) -- an ex-smoker shares practical tips on how to butt out
  • "Conquer the Kitchen" (Spring 2008) -- an easy-to-read article about healthy eating for people with HIV
  • "Let's Get Physical: The Benefits of Exercise" (Spring/Summer 2005) -- a look at how regular exercise can promote the health and overall sense of well-being of PHAs
  • "Work It!" (Spring/Summer 2009) -- a physician, a dietitian, a yoga instructor and a personal trainer offer advice to PHAs who want to get active

Health Canada's On the Road to Quitting -- a guide to help you in your journey to break free from tobacco

The Heart & Stroke Foundation website -- a wealth of information on heart disease, heart-healthy recipes, educational materials, current research, multicultural resources and more

For more info about HIV and heart health, contact CATIE at 1.800.263.1638 or go to

Debbie Koenig is a writer/editor at CATIE. This article is based on a CATIE fact sheet written by CATIE science and medicine editor Sean Hosein.

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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. It is a part of the publication The Positive Side. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
An HIVer's Guide to Metabolic Complications
HIV and Cardiovascular Disease
High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know
More on Heart (Cardiovascular) Disease

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