UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Cardiology

Title: HIV and Cardiac Disease

Keywords: HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, pericardial effusion (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/31/2008 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
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Patients with HIV are at increased risk for several cardiovascular complications of the disease. The most common cardiac manifestation in HIV disease is reported to be pericardial effusion. 

The presence of a pericardial effusion in HIV is a poor prognostic sign, an independent predictor of mortality (62% mortality at 6 mos is reported, compared to 7% in those without effusion).

The pericardial effusion is often associated with TB in endemic areas, but can also be associated with other organisms including Staph, Strep, Chlamydia, and some viruses. HIV itself can cause an effusion as part of a generalized serous effusive process.

Takeaway: In late-stage HIV patients with any cardiopulmonary complaints, it would be prudent to make bedside ED ECHO part of your usual initial evaluation.

[reference: Khunnawat C, Mukerji S, Havlichek D, et al. Cardiovascular manifestations in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients. Am J Cardiol 2008;102:635-642. Authors are from Michigan State Univ.]