Heart beat: Heart disease a major killer among people with HIV/AIDS

Heart beat

Heart disease a major killer among people with HIV/AIDS

Published: September, 2008

When the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) began appearing in the early 1980s, getting the virus was a death sentence. People infected with HIV died of AIDS or a related condition, often in less than a year. The introduction and combination of powerful virus-fighting medications in the mid-1990s changed the course of AIDS so much that some HIV-infected people can now expect near-normal life spans. But this often means having to worry about the increased risk of heart disease posed by having HIV as well as being treated for it.

People infected with HIV often have high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Their muscles don't respond as they should to insulin. They lose fat in and around muscle tissue, but gain it around the waist. They are prone to the development of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and malfunctions of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »