Cardiac involvement in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome--a review to push action. The Committee for the Study of Cardiac Involvement in AIDS

Clin Cardiol. 1998 Jul;21(7):465-72. doi: 10.1002/clc.4960210704.


As more effective therapies have produced longer survival times for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients, new complications of late-stage HIV infection including HIV-related heart disease have emerged. Almost any agent that can cause disseminated infection in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) may involve myocardium, but clinical evidence of cardiac disease is usually overshadowed by manifestations in other organs, primarily the brain and lungs. Cardiac abnormalities are found at autopsy in two-thirds of patients with AIDS, and more than 150 reports of cardiac complications have been published. Cardiac involvement in HIV disease includes pericardial effusion, myocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, and/or endocardial involvement at any stage of the disease. This review deals with all the cardiac manifestations of AIDS and serves to highlight two problems and one indication. First of all, there are very few clinical studies. Current knowledge is based almost exclusively on echocardiography and autopsy studies. Observational or clinical trials would be useful. Second, there exists very poor information on the impact of treatment; and epidemiologic and clinicopathologic studies are mandatory for obtaining detailed data concerning the mechanisms of myocardial damage in AIDS. Finally, because cardiac complications are often clinically inapparent or subtle in the initial stages, periodic screening of HIV-positive patients by electrocardiogram and echocardiogram is probably indicated. In addition, AIDS may also provide the opportunity to gain insights into the pathogenesis of little understood cardiac diseases such as lymphocytic myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Heart Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Survival Rate