People with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death from CVD than HCV-negative individuals with similar risk factors, reports. Publishing their findings in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 22 Italian studies.

Three cohort studies provided data about cardiovascular mortality and included 68,365 people, among whom there were 735 deaths. People with hep C were 65 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those without.

Nine case-control studies contributed to findings about the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis (artery plaques). The studies included 9,083 people, of whom 1,979 had carotid artery plaques. People with hep C were 2.27 times more likely to have carotid atherosclerosis than HCV-negative people. When more than 1 in 5 of the individuals in the study population smoked, the likelihood of people with hep C to have the artery plaques was 2.66 times greater.

The researchers looked at eight studies for the incidence of cardiovascular disease-related health events, including stroke. The studies included 390,602 people, among whom there were 18,388 CVD-related events. Having hep C increased the risk of an event by 30 percent, and just strokes by 35 percent. The hep C-associated risk was more pronounced when the population studied had a diabetes rate of at least 10 percent, a high blood pressure rate of greater than 20 percent, or the population’s average age was greater than 50.

The researchers concluded that, even after considering major heart disease risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, people with hep C still have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, CVD-related death, and carotid artery disease. This is particularly the case among those with diabetes, high blood pressure or active nicotine addiction.

To read the HIVandHepatitis article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.