Management of metabolic complications and cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients

AIDS Rev. 2010 Oct-Dec;12(4):231-41.


As result of the great benefit of HAART, AIDS-related deaths have dramatically declined during the last decade in HIV-infected individuals. However, mortality due to non-AIDS conditions and particularly cardiovascular events seems to be on the rise in this population. Metabolic complications and other conditions responsible for increased cardiovascular risk are common in HIV persons. Moreover, antiretroviral medications and HIV itself might play a role in further increasing cardiovascular risk. As the HIV population is aging, a growing impact of cardiovascular events on survival can be expected. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of predisposing cardiovascular risk factors is warranted in this population. In this way, all HIV-infected individuals should be evaluated regularly for lipid abnormalities, hyperglycemia, arterial hypertension, overweight, renal disease, and smoking. The individual´s absolute risk for coronary heart disease must be defined, and comprehensive therapeutic measures should be undertaken in order to minimize future complications in subjects with significant cardiovascular risk. Lifestyle habits must be encouraged, including healthy diet and exercise. Switches in antiretroviral regimens using metabolic-friendly agents should also be considered for managing mild metabolic abnormalities in lipids and glucose, as long as suppression of viral replication is not compromised. The management of overt lipid disorders, diabetes, and hypertension basically must follow the guidelines applied to the general population and specific drugs administered, taking into account the potential for drug interactions with antiretroviral agents. In summary, efforts for reducing the increased cardiovascular risk characteristically seen in HIV-infected individuals are warranted, and preventable factors, including adequate management of metabolic abnormalities and hypertension, along with promotion of lifestyle habits and smoke cessation, should no longer be neglected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / adverse effects*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / etiology
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-HIV Agents