People who are overweight, who smoke or who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to have high blood pressure. If blood pressure is high, it causes a strain on blood vessels and the heart. The higher the blood pressure is, the greater the risk of strokeheart problems and kidney failure. Researchers have found that high blood pressure (hypertension) is extremely common in middle-aged and older people living with HIV. The researchers recruited just over 500 people living with HIV over the age of 45, comparing them with a closely matched group of HIV-negative people. While 36% of the HIV-negative participants had high blood pressure, this rose to 48% of HIV-positive participants. Even after making statistical adjustment for age, gender, smoking, alcohol, exercise and weight, people living with HIV were more likely to have high blood pressure.

The researchers found that part of the explanation for increased rates of high blood pressure in this group of older HIV-positive people were changes in body composition associated with lipodystrophy, including excess stomach fat and loss of fat. While the people in this study were mostly doing well on modern anti-HIV drugs, many had been taking HIV treatment for decades. Over a third had previously taken stavudine (d4T, Zerit), a drug that we now know is associated with lipodystrophy. These individuals were more likely to have high blood pressure.

The full article can be read here.

There’s more information on high blood pressure in NAM’s factsheet .