November 2, 2010
The Pediatric AIDS Clinic at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital is conducting what is believed to be the only study on HIV-positive children and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Grace McComsey, chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Rheumatology, and Global Health at Rainbow and a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is heading the four-year study.
Eighty patients from across Ohio (the youngest is two; the oldest is 21; mean age is 9) are being followed. At the study's start, participants underwent blood tests to assess cholesterol levels and diabetes or prediabetes, and to look for markers of heart inflammation -- a condition more common among HIV patients.
"In adults atherosclerosis is checked with a CT scan. But that test involves too much radiation for it to be routinely used on children safely," explained McComsey. Instead, the team used noninvasive ultrasound to measure carotid IMT (intima media thickness) and to assess whether there was any plaque buildup. "Whatever happens in the neck artery is a reflection of what happens in the heart vessel," she said.
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