Pattern of pericardial diseases in HIV-positive patients at University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Abstract: Rationale. Pericarditis has been reported as the most common cardiac complication of HIV disease, followed by pericardial effusion.

Methods. A retrospective review was conducted of all 68 patients treated for pericardial diseases between August 2003 and July 2008 at University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. HIV-positive patients (N=42) were compared with those who were HIV negative (N=26).

Results. More male than female patients presented with pericardial disease, and the HIV-positive patients were younger than those who were HIV negative. Pericardial effusion was the commonest mode of presentation, accounting for 20 HIVpositive patients (47.7%) and 13 HIV-negative patients (50%). Pericardiostomy was the commonest surgical intervention performed in HIV-positive patients (N=15), while the majority of HIV-negative patients had pericardiocentesis.

Conclusion. Pericardial effusion was the commonest cardiac presentation in HIV-positive patients in our setting. We recommend that patients with pericardial effusion be investigated for HIV infection.
Article Type: Report
Subject: HIV infection (Care and treatment)
HIV infection (Diagnosis)
HIV infection (Research)
HIV patients (Health aspects)
Heart diseases (Risk factors)
Heart diseases (Diagnosis)
Heart diseases (Research)
Epidemiology (Health aspects)
Authors: Abubakar, U.
Adeoye, P.O.
Adebo, O.A.
Adegboye, V.O.
Kesieme, E.B.
Okonta, E.K.
Pub Date: 06/01/2011
Publication: Name: Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine Publisher: South African Medical Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 South African Medical Association ISSN: 1608-9693
Issue: Date: June, 2011 Source Issue: 40
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Nigeria Geographic Code: 6NIGR Nigeria
Accession Number: 261319204
Full Text: Previous reports have described cardiac involvement in 28 73% of patients with HIV infection. This includes pericardial effusion, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure, infective endocarditis, tumours, myocarditis and left ventricular dysfunction. (1) The association between pericardial diseases and AIDS has been well documented. (2)

Of interest is the observation that the incidence of AIDS-related diseases found at autopsy studies is significantly higher than the incidence of abnormalities diagnosed clinically. It is therefore possible that many AIDS patients have cardiac abnormalities that are not recognised during the course of their illness. (3)

The number of HIV-positive patients with pericardial diseases has been reported to be increasing in Africa. (4) Pericarditis was reported to be the most common cardiac complication of HIV infection, followed by pericardial effusion. (5)


We reviewed the records of all patients treated for pericardial diseases between August 2003 and July 2008 at University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. Data were obtained from medical, ward and theatre records. Demographic data, causes of pericardial diseases, treatment offered and outcome were recorded. Pericardial effusion was categorised into mild (<2 cm) and severe (>2 cm), based on echocardiographic evaluation of thickness. Comparisons were made between the HIV-positive and HIV-negative groups. The chi-square test was used to compare the two groups.


The total number of patients treated for pericardial diseases during the period under review was 68; 42 were HIV positive and 26 HIV negative. The mean age of the HIV-positive patients was 30 years and that of the HIV-negative patients 53 years (p=0.05). HIV-positive patients were three times more likely to be male and HIV-negative patients twice as likely. Diagnoses and the causations of pericardial disease in the two groups are set out in Tables I and II, respectively. Large effusions were seen in 80% of HIV-positive patients, but only 15% were categorised as large in the HIV-negative group (Table III). The treatment offered to the patients is shown in Table IV. Pericardiostomy was performed in 15 of the HIV-positive patients and 4 of the HIV-negative patients. Four of the HIV-positive patients and 1 HIV-negative patient died. Among the HIV-positive patients, 2 died after pericardiectomy, 1 following a complication of tube pericardiostomy, and 1 while being prepared for surgery because he was haemodynamically unstable.


The incidence of cardiac manifestations in the course of AIDS is increasing, although these manifestations are not often diagnosed clinically. Myocarditis and pericardial diseases have been reported to be the commonest HIV-related cardiac abnormalities. (6) The association of pericardial diseases and AIDS has been well documented. (1) Pericardial effusion was the commonest mode of presentation in our patients, which is in keeping with other studies. (7) Our study showed that HIV-positive patients were younger than HIV-negative patients. This has also been documented by Kwan et al. (8) The majority of our HIV-positive patients had large effusions, and pericardiostomy was therefore the commonest procedure performed in this group. Effusions in HIV-negative patients were small and were mainly drained by pericardiocentesis.

This is in keeping with the findings of other studies. (9) Pleural effusion was associated with pericardial effusion, mainly in HIV-positive patients. This association has also been reported by Kaplan et al., (10) and it may be related to the large size of the pericardial effusions. Other studies have reported pericarditis as the commonest pericardial condition. (11-14) Tuberculosis was the commonest cause of pericardial disease in our patients. The association of tuberculosis and HIV infection has been described, (9) although some reports suggest that tuberculosis is less common than opportunistic infections and neoplasms as a cause of pericardial disease. (5) Of the patients in our study, 7 had malignant pericardial disease (16.7% of HIV-positive patients). Most series have reported Kaposi's sarcoma to be the commonest malignancy in HIV patients, mainly as a result of the documented association between this malignancy and HIV infection. (15) Purulent pericarditis was noted in the majority of HIV-negative patients. This has previously been reported from our centre. (16)

Of the HIV-positive patients in our study, 4 (9.5%) died. Mayosi et al. reported a higher mortality rate (26%), and found mortality to be highest in those with clinical AIDS or who were haemodynamically unstable. (10)


Although not commonly looked for clinically, cardiac involvement in HIV-positive patients is a reality, with pericardial effusion being the commonest mode of presentation in our environment. We advocate that patients with pericardial effusion be investigated for HIV infection, and likewise that all HIV-infected individuals should undergo periodic cardiac evaluation, including echocardiography, in order to identify sub-clinical pericardial and cardiac diseases.


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U Abubakar, MB BS

P O Adeoye, MB BS, FWACS


V O Adegboye, FWACS, FMCS

E B Kesieme, MRCS, FWACS

E K Okonta, MB BS

Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

Diagnosis                            HIV positive   HIV negative

Pericardial effusion                 20 (47.6%)     13 (50%)
Constrictive pericarditis            12 (28.6%)     7 (26.9%)
Effusive constrictive pericarditis   6 (14.3%)      2 (7.7%)
Pericarditis                         4 (9.5%)       4 (15.4%)
Total                                42             26


Diagnosis               HIV positive   HIV negative

Tuberculosis            17 (40.5%)     10 (38.5%)
Malignant disease       7 (16.7%)      4 (15.4%)
Chronic inflammation    6 (14.3%)      10 (38.5%)
Unknown                 12 (28.6%)     2 (7.7%)
Total                   42             26


                       HIV positive      HIV negative

Large effusion *       16 (80%)          2 (15.4%)
Small effusion **      2 (10%)           8 (61.5%)
No report ***          2 (10%)           3 (23.1%)
Total                  20                13

Statistical significance was defined as p < 0.05.

* p <0.01.

** p <0.05.

*** p <0.10.


Treatment              HIV positive   HIV negative

Pericardiostomy        15 (37.5%)     6 (23.1%)
Pericardiocentesis     6 (14.3%)      8 (30.8%)
Pericardiectomy        14 (33.4%)     8 (30.8%)
Nil                    7 (16.7%)      4 (15.4%)
  Total                42             26
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