Smoking increases risk of heart attack for People with HIV


In a recent study for medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, Danish researchers have suggested that tobacco smoking is a major factor responsible for the increased rate of heart attacks in those suffering with HIV.

A number of varied studies in this area have shown between 150 and 200% increase in risk of myocardial infarction in HIV-positive patients, as opposed to those who do not carry the virus. Though there are many other factors (behavioural, social, genetic) to be considered, it is clear that smoking plays a major role on its own.

The research conducted by Line Rasmussen collected data from the people of Copenhagen, between 1995 and 2003. Of the subjects, 3,251 were HIV-positive compared to data collected from 13,004 others. Rates of smoking in those affected by HIV soared to 47%, while only 19% of those unaffected were smokers.  Incidences of heart attack within the HIV community were 2.9%, almost 3 times higher than the general population (1%).
A report from a California healthcare programme has also confirmed an increased risk of myocardial infarction in HIV sufferers who smoke. This report also provides data which shows a consistent decline in heart attack risk, which can be linked closely to smoking cessation. Other factors responsible for the decline include the improvement of antiretroviral treatments and emphasis on primary prevention.


Leigh Hill