Aim: To investigate the relationship between carotid atherosclerosis and some major cardiovascular risk factors in uremic patients on chronic dialysis.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in 119 unselected dialysis patients (89 on hemodialysis and 30 on chronic ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, CAPD). Fasting blood sampling for serum lipids, albumin, hemoglobin, and echo-colour-Doppler evaluation of common carotid arteries were performed in all patients (during the non-dialysis day in hemodialysis patients). In hemodialysis patients BP was measured before and after dialysis; in CAPD patients home BP values were recorded during the month before the study day.
Results: Ninety-five patients had at least one plaque and 57 had at least four plaques. Thirty-eight had mild and eleven severe carotid stenosis. In multiple regression models, the mean internal diameter of carotid arteries was explained (R=0.52, P=0.0001) by systolic pressure (r=0.39), serum cholesterol (r=-0.28), age (r=0.27) and smoking (r=0.24) while the degree of carotid stenosis was predicted (R=0.39, P=0.0001) by age (r=0.36) and smoking (r=0.25). The number of atherosclerotic plaques was explained (R=0.51, P=0.0001) by age (r=0.36), smoking (r=0.25) and pulse pressure (r=0.20), serum albumin just failing to reach statistical significance (P = 0.06). However, serum albumin was a significant and independent predictor of the number of atherosclerotic plaques (r=-0.26) in hemodialysis patients (n=89). Sex, diabetes, Kt/V, duration of dialysis treatment, hemoglobin, serum calcium and phosphate did not add any predictive power to the models.
Conclusions: In dialysis patients arterial pressure and smoking are associated with carotid atherosclerosis. Serum albumin appears to serve as an independent predictor of carotid atherosclerosis.