Background: Aim of this review is to focus the attention on people living with HIV infection at risk of developing a cardiovascular event. What is or what would be the most suitable antiretroviral therapy? Which statin or fibrate to reduce the risk? How to influence behavior and lifestyles?
Discussion: Prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk remains the first and essential step in a medical intervention on these patients. The lifestyle modification, including smoking cessation, increased physical activity, weight reduction, and the education on healthy dietary practices are the main instruments. Statins are the cornerstone for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. They have been shown to slow the progression or promote regression of coronary plaque, and could also exert an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect. However the current guidelines for the use of these drugs in general population are dissimilar, with important differences between American and European ones. The debate between American and European guidelines is still open and, also considering the independent risk factor represented by HIV, specific guidelines are warranted. Ezetimibe reduces the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. It is effective alone or in combination with rosuvastatin. It does not modify plasmatic concentrations of antiretrovirals. A number of experimental new classes of drugs for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia are being studied. Fibrates represent the first choice for treatment of hypertriglyceridemia, however, the renal toxicity of fibrates and statins should be considered. Omega 3 fatty acids have a good safety profile, but their efficacy is limited. Another concern is the high dose needed. Other drugs are acipimox and tesamorelin. Current antiretroviral therapies are less toxic and more effective than regimens used in the early years. Lipodistrophy and dyslipidemia are the main causes of long-term toxicities. Not all antiretrovirals have similar toxicities. Protease Inhibitors may cause dyslipidemia and lipodystrophy, while integrase inhibitors have a minimal impact on lipids profile, and no evidence of lipodystrophy. There is still much to be written with the introduction of new drugs in clinical practice.
Conclusions: Cardiovascular risk among HIV infected patients, interventions on behavior and lifestyles, use of drugs to reduce the risk, and switch in antiretroviral therapy, remain nowadays major issues in the management of HIV-infected patients.
Keywords: Cardiovascular risk; Dyslipidemia; Ezetimibe; Fibrates; HIV; Lipodystrophy; Omega 3 fatty acids ART; Statins.