Leukocyte Count and Coronary Artery Disease Events in People With Human Immunodeficiency Virus: A Longitudinal Study

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Jun 8;76(11):1969-1979. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad033.


Background: People with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV; PWH) have increased cardiovascular risk. Higher leukocyte count has been associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) events in the general population. It is unknown whether the leukocyte-CAD association also applies to PWH.

Methods: In a case-control study nested within the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, we obtained uni- and multivariable odds ratios (OR) for CAD events, based on traditional and HIV-related CAD risk factors, leukocyte count, and confounders previously associated with leukocyte count.

Results: We included 536 cases with a first CAD event (2000-2021; median age, 56 years; 87% male; 84% with suppressed HIV RNA) and 1464 event-free controls. Cases had higher latest leukocyte count before CAD event than controls (median [interquartile range], 6495 [5300-7995] vs 5900 [4910-7200]; P < .01), but leukocytosis (>11 000/µL) was uncommon (4.3% vs 2.1%; P = .01). In the highest versus lowest leukocyte quintile at latest time point before CAD event, participants had univariable CAD-OR = 2.27 (95% confidence interval, 1.63-3.15) and multivariable adjusted CAD-OR = 1.59 (1.09-2.30). For comparison, univariable CAD-OR for dyslipidemia, diabetes, and recent abacavir exposure were 1.58 (1.29-1.93), 2.19 (1.59-3.03), and 1.73 (1.37-2.17), respectively. Smoking and, to a lesser degree, alcohol and ethnicity attenuated the leukocyte-CAD association. Leukocytes measured up to 8 years before the event were significantly associated with CAD events.

Conclusions: PWH in Switzerland with higher leukocyte counts have an independently increased risk of CAD events, to a degree similar to traditional and HIV-related risk factors.

Keywords: HIV infection; coronary artery disease; leukocytes; multivariable analysis; white blood cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / complications
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors