The Cardiovascular and Metabolic Complications of HIV Infection

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With the advent of more effective therapies for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, HIV-infected patients are living longer and cardiovascular disease is becoming more obvious in this population. Patients with HIV infection represent one of the most rapidly developing groups with cardiovascular disease globally. Cardiovascular disease complicating HIV infection is likely to contribute to burgeoning healthcare costs. Pericarditis, myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, atherosclerotic coronary vasculopathy, arterial aneurysms, pulmonary hypertension, and endocarditis occur with increased frequency in these patients. Pedcardial tamponade, dilated cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, and vasculopathy can lead to fatal outcomes in this population. The advent of cardiomyopathy heralds a very poor prognosis in patients infected with HIV. Coronary vasculopathy without obvious risk factors can lead to myocardial ischemia in young patients infected with the virus. MoreoVer, the protease inhibitors used to treat HIV infection induce a syndrome of lipodystrophy and dyslipidemia that may be associated with accelerated atherosclerosis as well as insulin resistance. All these factors contribute to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the HIV-infected population. HIV infection, opportunistic infections, secreted viral proteins such as gp120 (envelope protein) or Tat (transactivator of viral transcription), and cytokines elaborated during the course of HIV infection of the immune system all contribute to pathogenesis of these disorders. Further basic and clinical studies are required to understand the pathogenesis of cardiovascular complications and develop appropriate management strategies for these patients.