Background: Epidemiological studies have identified aortic stiffness as an independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. In these patients, aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) was associated with mediacalcosis, but the influence of arterial calcifications on the viscoelastic properties of large arteries was not well characterized. The purpose of the present study was to analyse the influence of arterial calcifications on arterial stiffness in stable haemodialysed patients.
Methods: We studied 120 stable ESRD patients on haemodialysis. All patients underwent B-mode ultrasonography of common carotid artery (CCA), aorta, and femoral arteries to determine CCA distensibility, the elastic incremental modulus (Einc), and the presence of vascular calcifications. All patients underwent measurement of aortic PWV and echocardiogram. The presence of calcifications was analysed semiquantitatively as a score (0 to 4) according to the number of arterial sites with calcifications.
Results: Our observations indicate that arterial and aortic stiffness is significantly influenced by the presence and extent of arterial calcifications. The extent of arterial calcifications is in part responsible for increased left ventricular afterload, and is inversely correlated with stroke volume. The influence of calcifications is independent of the role of ageing and blood pressure. Arterial calcifications density increases with age, duration of haemodialysis, the fibrinogen level, and the prescribed dose of calcium-based phosphate binders.
Conclusions: The results of this study showed that the presence of vascular calcifications in ESRD patients was associated with increased stiffness of large capacity, elastic-type arteries, like the aorta and CCA. The extent of arterial calcifications increased with the use of calcium-based phosphate-binders.