SAN FRANCISCO –, according to a review of over 30,000 patients in the ERCHIVES (Electronically Retrieved Cohort of HCV Infected Veterans) database of the Veterans Health Administration system.
In the study, 12,667 patients were treated with direct-acting antiretrovirals (DAAs) and 4,436 with pegylated interferon/ribavirin (PEG/RBV). Each subject was matched to an untreated control based on alcohol use, diabetes, and other confounders. Patients with HIV, hepatitis B, or previously diagnosed cardiovascular disease were excluded.
Over a follow-up of about 10 years, there were 2,361 strokes, heart attacks, or other cardiovascular (CV) events among untreated patients, which translated to an incidence of 30.9 events per 1,000 patient years. In the PEG/RBV group, there were 804 events, yielding an incidence of 23.5 per 1,000 patient years. The DAA group fared better, with 435 events and an incident rate of 16.3.
Sustained virologic response also was associated with lower CV risk, and the odds of attaining it were about 25% greater with DAAs vs. PEG/RBV. That might have played a role in the findings, since hepatitis C is known to be associated with CV disease and the virus has been found in atherosclerotic plaques.
Past investigations have been mixed on whether or not hepatitis C virus treatment reduces CV risk, but lead investigator Adeel Ajwad Butt, MD, professor of medicine at Cornell University, New York, said that his study was stronger than what has come before. He explained why, and also why the findings matter, in an interview at ID Week 2018, an annual scientific meeting on infectious diseases.
Most of the subjects were men, about a quarter were black, and the median age at baseline was 58 years.
Dr. Butt disclosed institutional research grants from Merck and Gilead.
SOURCE: Butt AA et al. ID Week 2018 abstract 930.