UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Cardiology

Title: HIV and CAD

Keywords: HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, coronary heart disease (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/14/2008 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 8/15/2022)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

 HIV positive patients are at increased risk of premature atherosclerosis for at least a few reasons:
1. HIV disease causes increased activation of platelets.
2. HIV produces arterial endothelial dysfunction [which promotes thrombosis formation].
3. Protease inhibitors produce dyslipidemias and insulin resistance.

HIV-associated CAD is also unusual in that the vessel involvement is frequently diffuse and circumferential along the whole artery.

HIV positive patients are known to have their first MI at an earlier age than non-HIV controls, and the effect is not related to CD4 count (not related to severity of disease).

The takeaway point here is to always strongly consider ACS in the differential diagnosis of patients with HIV that are presenting with cardiopulmonary complaints, even in relatively younger patients.


[reference: Khunnawat C, Mukerji S, Havlichek D, et al. Cardiovascular Manifestations in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients. Am J Cardiol 2008;102:635-642.]