We aimed to establish whether the limited impact of atazanavir on the plasma lipid profile could translate into a reduction in the predicted cardiovascular risk in antiretroviral (ARV)-experienced patients switching to an atazanavir-containing regimen.
HIV-1-infected treatment-experienced patients, switched to atazanavir for whatever reason and without prior major cardiovascular events, were selected and followed for at least 1 month. An individual cardiovascular risk score (10-year risk of major cardiovascular events) based on validated events and measurable risk factors in Italian cardiovascular cohorts was calculated using software available online.
A total of 197 patients were selected for inclusion in the study. After switching to atazanavir, the mean changes from pre-switch to last available measurement were −6.5% (P<0.001) for total cholesterol, −1.7% (P=0.029) for high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, −11.3% (P<0.001) for non-HDL cholesterol and −8.6% (P<0.001) for triglycerides. The crude cardiovascular risk score was reduced from 3.43 to 3.38% (P=0.51); the analysis normalized by age showed a reduction from 3.43 to 3.14% (P<0.001). Subsets of patients with high baseline total cholesterol or triglycerides showed more marked reductions.
A treatment switch to atazanavir caused significant reductions in plasma lipids and a modest but significant reduction in the normalized-for-age cardiovascular risk score. Efforts should be made to concomitantly reduce the other preventable cardiovascular risk factors.