Cardiovascular disease risk among women living with HIV in North America and Europe

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To examine the epidemiology and mechanistic underpinnings of heightened cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among women living with HIV (WLHIV) in North America and Europe.

Recent findings

WLHIV in North America and Europe exhibit high CVD incidence rates, which are at par with those of compatriot men living with HIV. Compared with uninfected women, WLHIV in these regions face a 2–4-fold increased relative risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure. HIV-associated CVD risk is fuelled by a negative synergy of traditional cardiometabolic risk factors and heightened systemic immune activation/inflammation. Among WLHIV, female sex and endogenous sex hormone production influence both traditional cardiometabolic risk factors and patterns of systemic immune activation/inflammation. WLHIV in North America and Europe may also experience heightened CVD risk in relation to a relatively increased prevalence of behavioral and psychosocial CVD risk factors, coupled with suboptimal therapeutic targeting of known traditional cardiometabolic risk factors.

Summary

Additional research on sex-specific mechanisms of HIV-associated CVD – based not only out of North America and Europe but also and especially out of Africa, Asia, and South America – will inform the development of CVD prediction algorithms and prevention guidelines clinically relevant to the approximately 17 million women aging with HIV globally.

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