Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients have a 3-30-fold increased risk of death compared with the general population. This mortality difference is even more pronounced in younger subjects. Two markers of aortic stiffness--aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) and augmentation index (AIx)--have been prospectively related to all-cause and cardiovascular (CV) mortality in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) populations. The aims of our study were first, to confirm the important deleterious effect of arterial stiffness in uraemia and second, to assess the impact on survival of increased AIx in a relatively young non-diabetic dialysis population, with minimal CV disease.
Methods: Ninety-two patients (mean age 42.6 +/- 11.2 years) were included in the study and followed for a period of 61 +/- 25 months. None of the patients had diabetes mellitus, and only 3.3% had prior history of CV disease. AIx was determined by applantation tonometry using a SphygmoCor device (AtCor, PWV Inc., Westmead, Sydney, Australia).
Results: Mean AIx in our study population was 19.9 +/- 13.7%; other significant haemodynamic parameters were: systolic blood pressure (SBP) 129 +/- 24 mmHg, pulse pressure 35.3 +/- 17.5 mmHg with 27.2% of the study population receiving angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I). On univariate analysis, in our group AIx correlated with: body weight (P < 0.001), radial SBP (P < 0.001) and haemoglobin levels (P < 0.05). There was no correlation between AIx and any of the echocardiographic parameters. In the stepwise multiple regression analysis, the only independent predictors for AIx were weight (P < 0.001), SBP (P < 0.001) and haemoglobin (P < 0.05) with the model explaining 33% of the AIx variability (adjusted R(2) = 0.33). During the follow-up period, 15 deaths were recorded. In the Cox analysis (P = 0.014; chi square 20.7 for the model) the only independent predictors for all-cause mortality were age (P = 0.001), left ventricular mass index (P = 0.032) and ACE-I therapy (P = 0.039) while AIx did not reach statistical significance. There was no difference in patients' survival when divided by AIx tertiles, assessed by the log rank test (P = 0.78).
Conclusion: Our results fail to support the notion that an increased effect of wave reflections on central arteries is a strong and independent predictor of mortality in all ESRD patients on haemodialysis. The effect of arterial wave reflections might be in fact dependent on patient age and concurrent comorbidity status.