Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to a group of diseases and illnesses of the heart and blood vessels and includes:
- coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, which can lead to chest pain [angina] or heart attacks)
- cerebrovascular disease (strokes and other problems with blood vessels in the brain)
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- peripheral vascular disease (blocked blood vessels in the legs)
Ageing, having a family history of cardiovascular disease and lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and lack of exercise can predispose anyone to heart disease, but being HIV-positive can also increase your vulnerability.
Both HIV infection and ARV treatment can change the levels of cholesterol and lipids (fats) in your blood and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating well and reducing your alcohol intake. It is also important to get support for making these lifestyle changes and to get regular health checks to monitor blood pressure, lipids, glucose and cholesterol.
- Your Body Blueprint for HIV and healthy living (AFAO)
- Cardiovascular wellness for people living with HIV (PDF - National Heart Foundation)
- Factsheet: Giving up smoking (PDF - AFAO)
This page was published on 19 September, 2011
This page was reviewed on 23 December 2015
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