Background: Although an increased serum phosphate concentration is a significant risk factor for vascular calcification, it is unclear whether serum phosphate level is a risk factor for increased arterial wall thickness in hemodialysis patients.
Methods: Using B-mode ultrasonography, we examined intima-medial thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery of hemodialysis patients and analyzed risk factors for increased IMT with regard to the effect of serum phosphate. Seven hundred sixteen hemodialysis patients were enrolled (547 patients without diabetes, 169 patients with diabetes; 441 men, 275 women; age, 60 +/- 8.5 years).
Results: IMT of patients with diabetes was significantly greater than that of patients without diabetes (0.859 +/- 0.250 versus 0.783 +/- 0.178 mm; P < 0.0001). For the group of all patients, IMT correlated weakly, but significantly, with serum phosphate level (r = 0.093; P = 0.0127). In multiple regression analysis of the group of all patients, greater serum phosphate level (beta = 0.166; P < 0.0001) was shown to be a significant independent risk factor for increased carotid IMT, in addition to other significant independent risk factors, including advanced age, higher blood pressure, greater non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and the presence of diabetes (R2 = 0.1119; P < 0.00001). In multiple regression analyses performed separately for hemodialysis patients without and with diabetes, greater phosphate level and advanced age were significant independent risk factors for increased IMT, independent of other confounding risk factors.
Conclusion: These results show that in addition to advanced age, greater serum phosphate level is a significant and independent factor associated with advanced arteriosclerosis in hemodialysis patients with and without diabetes, suggesting that phosphate levels should be controlled appropriately to prevent an increase in arterial wall thickness in hemodialysis patients.