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HIV Drug May Double Heart Attack Risk

Armen Hareyan's picture

A widely used anti-HIV drug is found to increase risk for heart attack.

A team of scientists from Copenhagen University examined several AIDS drugs and found no risk, except from Abacavir and Didanosine. Didanosine is found to be less risky than Abacavir. It increases heart attack risk by 50%, compared to Abacavir's 200%. Abacavir itself is the most widely used anti-HIV drug.

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Study included 33000 people using different drug combinations. The study lasted 5 years. 754 of study participants had heart attack, 192 of them were taking Abacavir, 124 of them were using Didanosine. However, the side effect is not lasting long. Those patients who stopped using the drugs did not report any cardiovascular event within 6 months.

The study found risks of using Abacavir, but the benefits still exist and researchers urge physicians to consider all factors for each patient before deciding how to treat HIV. They need to fully asses possible risks and benefits for everyone individually and only after this assessment prescribe the necessary drug. Since drugs are used in different combinations, some of the drugs may be replaced. Therefore, physicians may choose which drug to subscribe.

A GlaxoSmithKline representative expressed company's opinion about the study, saying that 54 studies conducted by the company have never detected heart attack risks posed by Abacavir. He said, that heart is disease is another issue among HIV patients and this is why there may be a link between drug use and cardiovascular events. There may also be other factors affecting heart health like family history, smoking, and lack of exercising.