The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and liver damage increases in the presence of hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C infection increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and liver damage. Hepatitis C infection can severely damage the liver, but new findings from Johns Hopkins revealed that it can also mean dangers for the heart as well.
The findings came from a large ongoing study of men who had sex with men, but not all were infected with HIV. The men were followed to observe progression and risk of disease. A subgroup of the men had both HIV and hepatitis C, two conditions that are commonly seen together.
The men with HIV already had an increased risk of heart disease, but the researchers were interested to examine whether hepatitis C could lead to the same risks.
The researchers found that those with hepatitis C were more likely to have abnormal fat and calcium plaques in their arteries – atherosclerosis – which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Principal investigator Eric Seaberg said, “We have strong reason to believe that infection with hepatitis C fuels cardiovascular disease, independent of HIV, and sets the stage for subsequent cardiovascular trouble. We believe our findings are relevant to anyone infected with hepatitis C, regardless of HIV status.”
Although the researchers are unsure how or why hepatitis C infection increases plaque buildups in the arteries, they stress that those patients with hepatitis C should be closely monitored for heart disease risk factors.