Does Hepatitis C Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?

An HCV infection may cause more than just liver damage.

An HCV infection may cause more than just liver damage.

New findings described in The Journal of Infectious Diseases suggest that those infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) may be at added risk of heart disease. While many participants in the study had HIV in addition to HCV, scientists say the results offer strong evidence that HCV poses risks to the heart independent of HIV.

The study included 994 men, aged 40 to 70 years old, without overt heart disease who were followed across several institutions. Of the men involved in the study, 613 were infected with HIV, 70 were infected with both viruses, and 17 were only infected with HCV. Participants underwent cardiac CT scans to examine and quantify the amount of fat and calcium deposits inside the vessels of their hearts.

The research found specifically that the chronic conditions of HCV were more likely to possess abnormal fat-and-calcium plaques inside arteries, a condition known as artherosclerosis. The condition often is a contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes.

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