Background: Cardiovascular diseases are the most common causes of death among chronic hemodialysis patients, yet the risk factors for these events have not been well established.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we examined the relationship between several traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors and the presence or history of cardiovascular events in 936 hemodialysis patients enrolled in the baseline phase of the Hemodialysis Study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The adjusted odds ratios for each of the selected risk factors were estimated using a multivariable logistic regression model, controlling for the remaining risk factors, clinical center, and years on dialysis.
Results: Forty percent of the patients had coronary heart disease. Nineteen percent had cerebrovascular disease, and 23% had peripheral vascular disease. As expected, diabetes and smoking were strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases. Increasing age was also an important contributor, especially in the group less than 55 years and in nondiabetic patients. Black race was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases than non-blacks. Interestingly, neither serum total cholesterol nor predialysis systolic blood pressure was associated with coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, or peripheral vascular disease. Further estimation of the coronary risks in our cohort using the Framingham coronary point score suggests that traditional risk factors are inadequate predictors of coronary heart disease in hemodialysis patients.
Conclusions: Some of the traditional coronary risk factors in the general population appear to be also applicable to the hemodialysis population, while other factors did not correlate with atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases in this cross-sectional study. Nontraditional risk factors, including the uremic milieu and perhaps the hemodialysis procedure itself, are likely to be contributory. Further studies are necessary to define the cardiovascular risk factors in order to devise preventive and interventional strategies for the chronic hemodialysis population.