Acute HIV infection may cause myocardial impairment without cardiac symptoms, a small study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases showed. The viral replication and inflammation caused by acute HIV lead to inflammatory cardiomyopathy, which is reversible, but the resulting myocardial damage may not be, the study authors warn.
Researchers used a specific peptide, NT-proBNP, and protein, troponin T, as markers of myocardial function and damage, respectively. They enrolled 49 people with acute HIV at a hospital in Vienna, Austria, in the study. At baseline, NT-proBNP levels were elevated in 32.7% of participants, and troponin T levels in 22.4%. Both biomarkers dropped significantly after participants' viral loads had been suppressed on antiretroviral therapy.
However, it is unclear whether the damage to the heart muscle tissue indicated by the initially high troponin T levels is permanent. In the general population, elevated troponin T is associated with higher rates of cardiac events. To what extent this also applies to PLWH needs to be investigated, said the researchers, who also called for further studies on this topic.