Review of electrocardiographic abnormalities among people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review


INTRODUCTION: Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities are increasingly being reported among people living with HIV (PLWH). However, the exact prevalence of ECG abnormalities among PLWH in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a region with one of the highest burdens of HIV, is not known. Through a systematic review, we determined the prevalence and patterns of ECG abnormalities among PLWH in SSA. METHODS: We conducted a search in online databases including EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL and Research for Life for studies published between 1st January 2000 and 31st December 2020. Studies reporting any form of ECG abnormalities published in English were screened and reviewed for eligibility. Retrieved studies were assessed for validity using the modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Data was summarized qualitatively, and ECG abnormalities were further subcategorized into rate, conduction, and rhythm abnormalities as well as atrial and ventricular enlargements. RESULTS: We retrieved seventeen of the 219 studies assessed for eligibility published between 2001 and 2020, with a total of 2,572 eligible participants. The mean age of the participants ranged between 6.8 years and 58.6 years. Of the 17 studies, 8 (47%) were case-control, 6 (35.3%) cross-sectional and 3 (17.6%) were cohort in design. Thirteen studies were conducted in the adult population while four were conducted in the pediatric population. The prevalence of ECG abnormalities ranged from 10% to 81% and 6.7% to 26.5% in the adult and pediatric population respectively. Among studies done in the adult population, conduction abnormalities were the most reported (9 studies) with a prevalence ranging from 3.4% to 53.5%. In the pediatric population, rate abnormalities were the most reported (4 studies) with a prevalence ranging from 3.9% to 20.9%. The heterogeneity in results could be attributed to the absence of uniform criteria to define ECG abnormalities. CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight a high prevalence of ECG abnormalities among PLWH in SSA. Consideration of ECG in the comprehensive evaluation of cardiac dysfunction among PLWH in SSA maybe warranted.


Semulimi AW, Kyazze AP, Kyalo E, Mukisa J, Batte C, Bongomin F, Ssinabulya I, Kirenga BJ, Okello E




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Co-morbidities
    • Cardiovascular


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