WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (AFP) - Patients undergoing treatment for AIDS are at a sharply higher risk for heart attack, according to a study due to be published Thursday.
Research on some 23,000 patients in Europe, the United States and Australia showed that the rate of heart attack increased 26 percent per year of exposure to combination antiretroviral therapy.
In all, 126 people suffered heart attacks during the study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which followed patients for about 19 months.
The work contradicts results from a prior study in the Journal which did not establish the link between AIDS therapies and risk for myocardial infarction.
The study's authors, led by doctor Jens Lundgren of the Hvidovre University Hospital in Copenhagen, said, however, that the limited nature of the new study did not warrant modifications to current treatments that allow many patients to endure AIDS as a chronic illness as opposed to a death sentence.
"The absolute risk of myocardial infarction was low and must be balanced against the marked benefits from antiretroviral treatment," the authors wrote in conclusion.
And in an editorial in the same issue, doctors Peter Sklar and Henry Masur wrote: "Given the complexity of the medical care of patients with HIV infection, we need to have unequivocal evidence that changes in our successful treatment paradigm are warranted."
Nearly 45 million people around the world live with the AIDS virus, most of them in developing countries where they have no medical treatment.
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