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Original research article
Lower coronary plaque burden in patients with HIV presenting with acute coronary syndrome
  1. E J O'Dwyer1,2,3,
  2. P Bhamra-Ariza1,4,
  3. S Rao1,3,
  4. S Emmanuel1,5,
  5. A Carr1,2 and
  6. C J Holloway1,2,3,4
  1. 1St. Vincent's Hospital Darlinghurst and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Frimley Health NHS Foundation, Surrey, UK
  5. 5University of Notre Dame, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr EJ O'Dwyer; eoinjude{at}


Objective Treated HIV infection is associated with a higher incidence of coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, although the mechanisms remain unclear. We sought to characterise the burden of coronary artery disease in men with HIV using retrospective data from invasive coronary angiograms in patients presenting with acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Methods Demographic and coronary angiographic data were obtained from 160 men with ST elevation myocardial infarction, non-STEMI or high-risk chest pain; 73 HIV-infected cases and 87 age-matched controls. The burden of coronary disease was calculated using the Gensini Angiographic Scoring System by 2 independent cardiologists blinded to HIV status.

Results The 2 groups were matched for age, sex and cardiac event subtype and there was no difference in rates of smoking or cholesterol levels. Compared with control participants, patients with HIV had higher usage of antihypertensives (46 (63%) vs 30 (35%), p<0.001) and statins (47 (64%) vs 29 (33%), p<0.001). There was no difference in plaque distribution between both groups; however, the Gensini score was 42% lower in cases with HIV than in controls (p<0.03). C reactive protein was higher in cases with HIV (13.4±15.4 vs 3.7±3.6).

Conclusions Men with HIV presenting with ACS paradoxically had a lower burden of coronary plaque than matched controls, despite more aggressive risk factor management, suggesting that plaque vulnerability, rather than total burden of atherosclerosis, may be important in the pathophysiology of coronary artery disease in men with HIV.


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  • Funding CJH has received research funding and consultancy fees from Gilead Sciences. AC has received research funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, MSD and ViiV Healthcare; consultancy fees from Gilead Sciences, MSD and ViiV Healthcare; lecture and travel sponsorships from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, Janssen, MSD and ViiV Healthcare; and has served on advisory boards for Gilead Sciences, MSD and ViiV Healthcare.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Human Research and Ethics Committee (HREC) LNR/15/SVH/45.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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