Alcohol Drinking and Atherosclerosis among HIV+ Persons

Moderate alcohol drinking and atherosclerosis are linked in the general population. That is, moderate consumption reduces the risk of atherosclerosis (AS). The condition is also called atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. But most non-medical people call it hardening of arteries


I. Atherosclerosis

II.The Study

II. Resources

I. Atherosclerosis

AS is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Those are the vessels through which blood from the heart flows throughout the body. When arteries become narrow, they reduce blood flow. And when they become blocked, they cause serious problems or death. For a good video animation of the disease, visit Watch, Learn, Live. It’s very informative.

AS is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This includes heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. And CVD is the biggest cause of deaths around the world.

The following risk factors increase the chances of serious atherosclerosis.

    • drinking and atherosclerosisSmoking
    • High cholesterol.
    • High blood pressure.
    • Not exercising.
    • Having diabetes.
    • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
    • Too much fat around the waist.
    • Too much stress.
    • Not drinking in moderation. That is, either abstaining or drinking heavily.

These factors cause over 90% of all heart attacks. They also cause a large proportion of strokes, peripheral artery disease, and other medical problems. So atherosclerosis is very serious health problem

II. The Study

drinking and atherosclerosisResearchers wanted to see if drinking and atherosclerosis are also linked in HIV+ persons. To do so, they analyzed data from 483 HIV+ participants of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. They also analyzed data from 305 HIV+ participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid artery ultrasound imaging ten years apart.

Researchers categorized the participants into ten-year drinking patterns. Those patterns were abstinent/low, moderate, and heavy. Next, they compared the link of AS and long-term moderate and of heavy use. Then they compared the link of AS to that of abstinent/low drinking.

Heavy alcohol consumption was not associated with risk of AS. That was true for both men and women. That’s compared to abstinent/low consumption.

Moderate drinking was linked to a 54% lower risk for developing the disease in men. But it didn’t reduce it in women. Again, that’s compared to abstinent/low drinking.

The researchers concluded that moderate drinking was linked with a very large protective effect on AS in HIV+ men.1

III. Resources: Drinking and Atherosclerosis

    1. Kelso-Chichetto, N. et al. The impact of long-term moderate and heavy alcohol consumption on incident atherosclerosis among persons living with HIV. Drug Alco Dep.