Background: Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a strong independent predictor of overall and cardiovascular mortality in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Nevertheless, because age, blood pressure, heart rate, and gender are strong determinants of both arterial stiffness and mortality, the individual relevance of PWV measurements remains controversial.
Methods: A cohort of 242 patients with ESRD undergoing hemodialysis was studied for a mean (+/- SD) duration of 78 +/- 46 months. At entry, together with standard clinical and biochemical analyses, PWV was measured using Doppler ultrasonography. On the basis of a nomogram established on 469 nonuremic subjects, a theoretical value of PWV was determined in ESRD patients according to their age, blood pressure, gender, and heart period. The PWV index (measured PWV - theoretical PWV) was then calculated for each individual ESRD patient.
Results: Based on Cox analysis, the PWV index, but neither pulse pressure nor cardiac mass, was a strong and independent predictor of both cardiovascular and overall mortality, together with age and time on dialysis before inclusion. Patients with positive (versus negative) PWV index had a twofold adjusted risk of mortality during the follow-up. Per each 1 meter/second PWV index increment, we observed a 34% (crude) and a 14% (adjusted) increase in both cardiovascular and overall mortality (P < 0.02 for all).
Conclusion: In ESRD patients, the calculation of a PWV index provides information about cardiovascular and overall mortality risk with high predictive power, showing that PWV measurements provide discriminatory prognostic power over and above conventional cardiovascular risk factors.