Your cardiovascular system is made up of your heart and the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and remove waste from them.
Cardiovascular disease includes a range of conditions which affect the heart and surrounding arteries. These include coronary heart disease, narrowing of the arteries, stroke, deep vein thrombosis and heart attack. These conditions are often caused by lifestyle factors although they are sometimes genetic.
If you have HIV it is important to look after your heart. HIV speeds up the ageing of the immune system and inflames it, which can make cardiovascular disease more likely.
Untreated HIV increases the risk of heart disease but starting treatment can reduce these risks. Some antiretroviral drugs, including some protease inhibitor, may interfere with the balance of your blood fats leading to increases in cholesterol and triglycerides which can clog up your arteries. If you have any concerns relating to your antiretroviral treatment and your heart, your healthcare team will be able to advise you.
Your lifestyle can also increase your risk of heart disease. By stopping smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, having a healthy diet low in saturated fats, exercising regularly and addressing problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, you can help keep your heart healthy.