Understanding why persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have accelerated atherosclerosis and its sequelae, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction, is necessary to provide appropriate care to a large and aging population with HIV. In this review, we delineate the diverse pathophysiologies underlying HIV-associated CAD and discuss how these are implicated in the clinical manifestations of CAD among persons with HIV. Several factors contribute to HIV-associated CAD, with chronic inflammation and immune activation likely representing the primary drivers. Increased monocyte activation, inflammation, and hyperlipidemia present in chronic HIV infection also mirror the pathophysiology of plaque rupture. Furthermore, mechanisms central to plaque erosion, such as activation of toll-like receptor 2 and formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, are also abundant in HIV. In addition to inflammation and immune activation in general, persons with HIV have a higher prevalence than uninfected persons of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including dyslipidemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and tobacco use. Antiretroviral therapies, although clearly necessary for HIV treatment and survival, have had varied effects on CAD, but newer generation regimens have reduced cardiovascular toxicities. From a clinical standpoint, this mix of risk factors is implicated in earlier CAD among persons with HIV than uninfected persons; whether the distribution and underlying plaque content of CAD for persons with HIV differs considerably from uninfected persons has not been definitively studied. Furthermore, the role of cardiovascular risk estimators in HIV remains unclear, as does the role of traditional and emerging therapies; no trials of CAD therapies powered to detect clinical events have been completed among persons with HIV.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine