April 14 2006 12:00 AM ET
Experts have warned for some time that antiretroviral treatment can boost heart attack risks, but now an analysis of more than 23,000 HIVers might have pinpointed the cause: protease inhibitors. Use of protease drugs was shown to double heart attack risks for every five years of use. In contrast, nonnucleoside analogs showed no link to cardiac complications.
Does taking a protease inhibitor automatically result in cardiac complications? Not necessarily, say the researchers, who note that heart attack rates were low among all study participants. But HIVers on protease inhibitors should still speak with their physicians about ways to lower their chances for heart ailments, including diet, exercise, and possibly even lipid-lowering medications.