People with HIV have a 50 percent increased risk of heart attack compared with the general population, Reuters Health reports. Publishing their findings in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine examined data on nearly 82,500 people in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC) between April 1, 2003, and December 31, 2009, in order to ascertain heart attack prevalence among the group.

Across a median follow-up of 5.9 years, the group experienced a cumulative 871 heart attacks, 176 of which were fatal. Finding that people with HIV have a “consistently and significantly higher” risk of heart attack between the ages of 40 and 70, the researchers deduced that the rate of heart attacks per 1,000 people per year for those in their 40s was 2.0 for people with HIV and 1.5 for those without; for those in their 50s, the respective rates were 3.9 and 2.2; and during their 60s, the rates were a respective 5.0 and 3.3.

Factoring out other risk factors, the researchers concluded that HIV-positive people have a 50 percent increased risk of heart attack compared with HIV-negative people. These findings, however, may not apply to women because of the fact that the vast majority of the study population was male.

The researchers speculate that the reason for this increased risk is a cross section of HIV’s effects on the body as well as thee effects of antiretrovirals. Hepatitis C coinfection and kidney disease were also associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

To read the Reuters Health story, click here.

To read the study, click here.