Background: Vascular calcification has been associated with all cause and cardiovascular mortality in patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESRD). Whether vascular calcification is present in persons with advanced chronic kidney disease starting dialysis or develops in patients on dialysis is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of vascular and coronary calcification in patients new to hemodialysis.
Methods: A total of 129 subjects new to dialysis were evaluated using electron beam computed tomography. The primary outcome was the presence and extent of coronary artery, aortic, and valvular calcification.
Results: Forty-three percent of subjects had no significant coronary artery calcification (total score </= 30) and 27% had no detectable aortic calcification. Thirty-four percent had coronary artery scores that placed them above the 90th percentile for age and sex. Coronary artery calcification was significantly associated with a history of coronary artery disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD) whereas aortic calcification was significantly associated with ASVD. Age (p < 0.0001), pulse pressure (p = 0.004), diabetes mellitus (p = 0.009), and a history of smoking (p = 0.026) were independently associated with the extent of coronary artery calcification. Age (p < 0.0001) and pulse pressure (p = 0.0003) were independently associated with the extent of aortic calcification.
Conclusions: A large fraction of patients new to hemodialysis had no evidence of coronary artery or aortic calcification. Coupled with the extensive vascular calcification reported by others in prevalent dialysis patients these findings suggest that dialysis-specific factors contribute to calcific vascular disease in ESRD.