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NEWS | May 14, 2014

Different approaches needed to control cardiovascular disease risks for those with HIV

(SACRAMENTO)

Even if treated, hypertension and high cholesterol are common for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to a new study from researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt hospitals in New York and the University of California, Davis.

Heejung Bang Heejung Bang

The finding — published online in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes — persuaded the study authors to recommend greater emphasis on cardiology in HIV treatment and research.

“It is clearly important to add cardiology specialists to the care teams for patients with HIV,” said Heejung Bang, professor of public health sciences at UC Davis and senior author of the study. “We also need more research focused on identifying treatments that work in controlling heart disease and stroke risks for this patient population.”

The study authors examined medical records for a diverse group of 4,278 outpatients in New York City ages 20-87 living with HIV who were treated at The Spencer Cox Center for Health, a designated New York State AIDS Center, located at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt hospitals.

The researchers reported that the prevalence of high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol was high in the study population’s patients living with HIV. They found 35 percent of HIV patients had high LDL-cholesterol (also known as "bad" cholesterol) and 43 percent had hypertension. 

While treatment rates were high for HIV patients with hypertension and/or high cholesterol, the researchers reported low rates of control of these risk factors. In the study, 90 percent of those with high cholesterol were treated, but only 75 percent of those treated were at their goal cholesterol level. Also, 75 percent of HIV patients with hypertension were being treated, but only 57 percent were at their goal blood pressure.

“The leading cause of death and disease in HIV patients is no longer due to HIV but now other causes, in particular heart attack and strokes,” said prevention specialist Merle Myerson, a physician and lead study author, who is director of the Cardiology Section at The Spencer Cox Center for Health at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt hospitals. “Even though our treatments of high cholesterol and blood pressure are good, the study results show there is much more for us to do to better control these heart disease risk factors in patients living with HIV.”

The research team concluded that further research of HIV and cardiovascular disease is warranted, including research on how HIV treatments might complicate the control of cardiovascular disease risks. They believe this new study, along with future studies, may provide a basis for developing guidelines for treating the growing population of HIV patients living with heart disease.

Merle Myerson
Merle Myerson

“Our findings highlight the need for more specific medical guidelines to aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients living with HIV and show that a comprehensive HIV clinic, which includes cardiovascular specialists, may be an important new standard of care,” said Myerson.

The study was supported in part by a grant from the Spencer Cox Center for Health at Mount Sinai.

In addition to Myerson and Bang, study co-authors were Eduard Poltavskiy of UC Davis, Ehrin Armstrong of the University of Colorado (formerly of UC Davis), Shari Kim of Mount Sinai and Victoria Sharp, formerly of Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the health system has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services — from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care. For information, visit www.mountsinai.org.

UC Davis Health System improves lives by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education and creating dynamic, productive community partnerships. It encompasses one of the country's best medical schools, a 619-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1,000-member physician practice group and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For information, visit www.healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.