April 5 (UPI) -- The American Heart Association published findings Monday indicating HIV patients may have a higher risk of complications while on beta blockers prescribed to treat heart problems.
New data reveal HIV patients are more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, if prescribed beta blockers rather than other types of medication to control cardiovascular function.
Researchers warn beta blockers in those patients have not only proven to be less effective but may be linked to an increase in cardiovascular problems.
"While many people are appropriately treated with beta blockers for various reasons, if you think you are taking them only for hypertension and aren't on any other blood pressure medications, I'd recommend talking to your doctor to make sure it's the best medication for you," University of Pennsylvania assistant medical professor Jordana B. Cohen said in a press release.
Cohen is the lead author on a study, published in the AHA Journal Hypertension, tracking the effects of cardiovascular disease on AIDs patients.
Researchers are also re-examing the use of beta blockers for women with high blood pressure. A study last July found those patients are at nearly 5 percent higher risk for heart failure than men, even if they have no history of heart disease.
The new research suggests HIV patients do not break down the molecules in beta blockers the same way the rest of the population does and that specialized care and drugs may result in the wrong pharmaceuticals being mixed together, lessening the effects.
Widely prescribed beta blockers include Acebutolol (Sectral), Atenolol (Tenormin), Bisoprolol (Zebeta), Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), Nadolol (Corgard), Nebivolol (Bystolic) and Propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran XL).
Doctors have known HIV patients suffer from an elevated risk of heart disease, including narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
Cohen's study focused on a group of more than 8,000 veterans living with HIV who were taking medication to control cardiovascular disease.
In tracking the group from 2000 to 2018, researchers found the data presented in the article.
Study authors said while the data revealed correlations between beta blocker usage and cardiovascular disease in HIV patients, they were unable to directly link medication use as the data studied is "retrospective" rather than ongoing.
"Patients with HIV need heightened attention to their elevated risk of heart disease. More dedicated research studying the unique needs for people with HIV and those taking ARTs [anti-retroviral therapies] is needed in order to optimize cardiovascular prevention," Cohen said.