Background: Cardiovascular disease remains epidemic in transplant recipients, despite aggressive treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Thus, novel risk factors could play a role in the genesis of cardiovascular events in this population.
Methods: We evaluated the impact of early posttransplant anemia on cardiovascular events. We examined rolling average hematocrit values at 30-day intervals and determined the effect of increasing hematocrit on the risk for cardiovascular (CV) events in a single-center population of 404 type 1 diabetic end-stage renal disease patients who underwent either cadaveric kidney transplantation alone or simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation.
Results: Greater than 60% of the individuals in the study cohort had hematocrit less than or equal to 30% at least once during the first 30 days posttransplant. Forty-two individuals (10.4% of the study population) had at least one 30-day rolling hematocrit less than or equal to 30% and a CV event (myocardial infarction, CV death, angina, congestive heart failure) during the first 26 weeks of the posttransplant course. Increasing hematocrit (>30%) led to a reduction in the risk ratio (RR) for a CV event compared with hematocrit less than or equal to 30% (RR, 0.237; P=0.015). The association between anemia and CV events remained statistically significant in a multivariate analysis (RR, 0.65; P=0.022) that also included age and a history of pretransplant ischemic heart disease.
Conclusions: These data suggest that anemia is an important risk factor for early posttransplant CV events in a high-risk population. Prospective studies of anemia management therapy in this setting are warranted to determine whether this will reduce early posttransplant CV risk.