Veterans study links HIV with higher risk of sudden cardiac death

A veteran fills out medical paperwork in a doctor's office.

Adults living with HIV were observed to have an elevated risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Based on these findings, researchers highlight the importance of HIV treatment and managing other SCD risk factors 

 The study followed the health outcomes of 144,336 veterans between 2003-2014. Thirty percent of study participants, 43,407, had HIV. Throughout the study, 3,035 of all adults experienced sudden cardiac death (SCD). The prevalence of SCD was higher among veterans living with HIV. The associated risks increased among adults with higher viral loads of HIV and who had altered immune function, based on lower counts of white blood cells. Cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, and other SCD risks, including hepatitis C infection, anemia, alcohol use disorder, and chronic obstructive lung disease were associated with greater SCD risk among all adults.  
The authors suggest future studies could explore mechanisms that contribute to increased sudden cardiac death rates among adults living with HIV. They note a higher proportion of men and adults with a smoking history participated in this study, which could alter how applicable the findings are to women and other adults. The research was supported by the NHLBI.  

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