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April 25, 1990

AIDS Giving Rise to Cardiac Problems

JAMA. 1990;263(16):2149. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440160011003

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A HIDDEN WAVE of heart disease could surface as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic continues to evolve.

An accurate assessment of incidence has not been made, says the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga. But more than 150 reports on acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related heart complications are in the scientific literature.

Pathologists are finding inflammation, myopathy, and neoplasms in as many as two thirds of autopsies on patients with AIDS. The rates are lowest among white homosexual men and highest in the nonwhite and intravenous drug—using populations through which the epidemic is now spreading.

"We feel that cardiac problems might emerge" (become symptomatic) during the increased survival time resulting from advances in treating the opportunistic infections that cause most AIDS-related deaths, says Constance Weinstein, PhD, chief of the cardiac diseases branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md (NHLBI).

A review in the April 1989 issue