HCV infection associated with hardening of the coronary artery

"A higher HCV load was associated with more extensive plaque formation."

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with an important early warning side of cardiovascular disease, investigators from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) report in the online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Both HIV and HCV infections were independently associated with hardening of the coronary artery, but there was no evidence that HIV/HCV co-infection worsened atherosclerosis. After controlling for HIV infection and other factors associated with heart disease, a consistent relationship was present between chronic HCV infection and coronary artery plaque formation.

“This is the largest study to date to demonstrate that chronic HCV [CHC] infection is associated with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, an important predictor of future cardiovascular disease [CVD],” write the authors. “The association of CHC with plaque remained significant after adjustment for…recognized CVD risk factors and was independent of HIV infection.”

“The elevated prevalence of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis among men with chronic HCV infection, especially men with the highest HCV RNA levels, provides further evidence supporting a link between chronic HCV infection and cardiovascular disease,” conclude the authors. “The presence of HCV infection may warrant vigilant cardiovascular risk assessment in these patients.”

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