Cardiovascular risk and D-dimer levels in HIV-infected ART-naïve Africans

Ana Olga Mocumbi, Igor Dobe, Sandra Cândido, Nick Kim


Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has decreased morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. With the adoption of the 90-90-90 strategy prevention and control of non-communicable disease, particularly knowledge of the burden and profile of cardiovascular disease, will become increasingly important. Our study assessed cardiovascular risk among recently diagnosed HIV-infected ART-naïve patients in a first referral urban hospital in a low-income country in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV-positive ART-naïve patients were submitted to cardiovascular risk assessment, clinical history, physical examination and laboratory workout, including 12-lead electrocardiography, portable transthoracic echocardiography, glycemia, lipidemia, hemogram and D-dimers. Three years after the diagnosis their vital status and occurrence of major cardiovascular events was assessed. We recruited 70 patients, all of black ethnicity (41 females; mean age 37±10.7). CD4 levels were very low (mean 21.3 cells/mL; SD 10.4). Twenty-one (26.6%) were overweight, 13 (16.7%) were obese, 19 (20.5%) had hyperglycemia and 20 patients (25.6%) had hypercholesterolemia. The median blood pressure was 119.5/79 mmHg (IQR 107-141/67-83); 20 patients (25.6%) had hypertension. Four (5.7%) patients had signs of heart failure, and left ventricular ejection fraction was reduced in 17 (25%). High levels of circulating D-dimers were found in 44 (62.8%) patients; the mean levels were 725.9 (SD 555.1). We found high occurrence of cardiovascular risk factors, left ventricular dysfunction and evidence of a pro-coagulant state in these HIV-infected ART-naïve patients. Active cardiovascular risk screening and stratification, as well as management protocols tailored to low-income settings are needed to sustain the gains obtained with increased availability of ART in Africa.