Modification of cardiovascular risk in hemodialysis patients: an evidence-based review

Hemodial Int. 2007 Jan;11(1):1-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-4758.2007.00146.x.


Cardiovascular disease accounts for 40% to 50% of deaths in dialysis populations. Overall, the risk of cardiac mortality is 10-fold to 20-fold greater in dialysis patients than in age and sex-matched controls without chronic kidney disease. The aim of this paper is to review critically the evidence that cardiac outcomes in dialysis patients are modified by cardiovascular risk factor interventions. There is limited, but as yet inconclusive controlled trial evidence that cardiovascular outcomes in dialysis populations may be improved by antioxidants (vitamin E or acetylcysteine), ensuring that hemoglobin levels do not exceed 120 g/L (especially in the setting of known cardiovascular disease), prescribing carvedilol in the setting of dilated cardiomyopathy, and by using cinacalcet in uncontrolled secondary hyperparathyroidism. Similarly, there are a number of negative controlled trials, which have demonstrated that statins, high-dose folic acid, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, multiple risk factor intervention via multidisciplinary clinics, and high-dose or high-flux dialysis are ineffective in preventing cardiovascular disease. Although none of these studies could be considered conclusive, the negative trials to date should raise significant concerns about the heavy reliance of current clinical practice guidelines on extrapolation of findings from cardiovascular intervention trials in the general population. It may be that cardiovascular disease in dialysis populations is less amenable to intervention, either because of the advanced stage of chronic kidney disease or because the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients is different from that in the general population. Large, well-conducted, multicenter randomized-controlled trials in this area are urgently required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Risk
  • Treatment Outcome