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1815939 tn?1377995399

Hepatitis C Infection May Fuel Heart Risk

Originally published in Journal of Infectious Disease:

"Hepatitis C Infection May Fuel Heart Risk"

"People infected with the hepatitis C virus are at risk for liver damage, but the results of a new Johns Hopkins study now show the infection may also spell heart trouble.

The findings, described online July 27 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, emerged from a larger ongoing study of men who have sex with men, many but not all of whom were infected with HIV and followed over time to track risk of infection and disease progression. A subset of the participants had both HIV and hepatitis C, two infections that often occur together.

Even though people infected with HIV are already known to have an elevated risk for heart disease, researchers emphasize their results offer strong evidence that hepatitis C can spark cardiovascular damage independent of HIV.

Specifically, the research found that study participants chronically infected with hepatitis C were more likely to harbor abnormal fat-and-calcium plaques inside their arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis and a common forerunner of heart attacks and strokes.

"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," says study principal investigator Eric Seaberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "We believe our findings are relevant to anyone infected with hepatitis C regardless of HIV status."

Investigators emphasize they don't know exactly how infection with the hepatitis C virus precipitates the growth of artery-clogging plaque but that their evidence is strong enough to warrant vigilant monitoring for cardiac symptoms among people infected with the virus.

"People infected with hepatitis C are already followed regularly for signs of liver disease, but our findings suggest clinicians who care for them should also assess their overall cardiac risk profile regularly," says study author Wendy Post, M.D., M.S., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.

Post says that at a minimum patients with hepatitis C would benefit from an annual cardiac evaluation that includes cholesterol and glucose testing, a blood pressure check and assessment of lifestyle habits.

The study involved 994 men 40 to 70 years old without overt heart disease who were followed across several institutions in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago. Of the 994, 613 were infected with HIV, 70 were infected with both viruses and 17 were only infected with hepatitis C. Participants underwent cardiac CT scans to detect and measure the amount of fat and calcium deposits inside the vessels of their hearts. Those infected with hepatitis C, regardless of HIV status, had, on average, 30 percent more disease-fueling calcified plaque in their arteries, the main driver of heart attack and stroke risk. People infected with either HIV or hepatitis C, on average, had 42 percent more noncalcified fatty buildup, a type of plaque believed to confer the greatest cardiac risk.

In addition, those who had higher levels of circulating hepatitis C virus in their blood were 50 percent more likely to have clogged arteries, compared with men without hepatitis C. Higher virus levels in the blood signal that the infection is not well controlled by drugs or the immune system. Poorly controlled infection, the investigators add, may lead to more inflammation throughout the body, which can fuel blood vessel damage and thus contribute to heart disease.

Treating hepatitis C infection promptly can ward off long-term liver damage, but researchers say their findings now raise another critical question: whether a new class of medications that help 90 percent of patients clear the virus within a few short months could also halt the formation of plaque and reduce cardiac risk in the long run."

13 Responses
Avatar universal
I believe as we go along there will be even more things caused by having Hep C. More then we even know about now. I also believe this "waiting" until one advances to later stage before treating is going to end up costing more then what it would if they would just treat people.

I posted the Statin study and most here just blew it off. Well we'll see.

I am just glad I was able to treat and get cured even if I had to do that nasty interferon. Good luck folks.

Thanks for posting this Pooh.
2059648 tn?1439770265
Just recently look this up.  Hepatitis C has damaging effects on the body.
If people really knew how much they would be running to treatment.  There
has been lots and lots of documentation on this for years.  

  Hepatitis C and Cardiopathy


  This is only one of many references.  Yes Hepatitis C can effect your
2059648 tn?1439770265
1815939 tn?1377995399
Hepatitis C causes chronic inflammation of the entire body (not just the liver). Therefore, the chronic inflammation caused by Hep C is going to affect any disease/disorder that is caused/triggered/exacerbated by chronic inflammation (Cardiovascular Disease, Autoimmune Disorders, etc.).

It is now widely known that chronic inflammation is the main cause of Cardiovascular Disease. So it is no surprise that HCV is causing Cardiovascular Disease.

This is another reason, among many, that insurance companies should not be withholding treatment for people with Hepatitis C. By waiting for treatment, people are increasing their risk of Cardiovascular Diseases (as well as many other diseases).
2059648 tn?1439770265
I believe that hepatitis C causes lots of issues.   All that floating around in your body can't be a good thing.   I just got a call this AM from my medical
group.  I now have a personal assist to help me with getting what I need.
This is new.  Not like I need someone to help me.   But I will take the offer.

Here is another reference to Hepatitis C and the heart.


Avatar universal
I reached svr 12 in June.  I saw your post on statins, and I'm on my fourth day of taking them.  Thanks.
Avatar universal
Pooh your always full of wonderful news!  (Sarcastic). This only reinforces Candos post on statins.  And good for you 48 for being your own advocate.

Hi gang hope everyone is well

1815939 tn?1377995399
444337 tn?1428077110
I'd like to add to the discussion that HCV also predisposes one to kidney disease. I'm in this particular category myself (stage 3 chronic kidney disease).

Chronic kidney disease can also contribute to factors that increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. These factors include increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides.

One more reason not to delay treatment for HCV.
2059648 tn?1439770265
Hepatitis C contributes to many illnesses.   This is the reason people should
not wait to cure their hepatitis C.   Below is a link to a very detail article about
connections to those illnesses and diseases.  Its would taking a careful look
at if you are concerned about what effect Hepatitis C has had on your body.

Avatar universal
I read that article the other day. But it also attacks the brain I read somewhere else. It's so nasty we can't begin to know what this virus does to the entire system. In time we may know the entire scoop.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the post.  I have CAD and had 4 stents put in Aug 2012.  In May I had chest iscomfort when exercising on the treadmill. Had stress test with nuclear die and scan showed up to 80 to 90 % blockage in one of the heart vessels.  Had a confirming CT then angioplasty. Lucky not to have a heart attack first. I was put on slimvastin 10 my a day. Took clopidogrel for a year. Take 81mg aspirin and 25 mg hydrochlorothiazide
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