Atherosclerosis in CKD: differences from the general population

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2010 Dec;6(12):723-35. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2010.143. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


The prevalence of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is higher in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD)-especially those with end-stage renal disease-than in the general population. The contribution of atherosclerosis to cardiovascular disease in patients with CKD remains unclear. Researchers in the 1970s proposed that atherosclerosis was the main cause of cardiovascular disease in patients with CKD and that its progression, based on observations of patients on long-term dialysis, was accelerated by the uremic state. Subsequent reports, however, favor the involvement of other mechanisms, such as arteriosclerosis (characterized by vascular stiffening), vascular calcification, 'myocyte/capillary mismatch', congestive cardiomyopathy, and sudden cardiac death. Imaging and morphological studies have contributed to our understanding of the pathogenesis and progression of cardiovascular disease associated with CKD. Based on clinical and experimental findings, we hypothesize the following: the initial cardiovascular abnormalities in the CKD setting include arteriosclerosis, left ventricular diastolic dysfunction, and left ventricular hypertrophy, abnormalities which, in adult patients, are often accompanied by atherosclerosis. The prevalence of atherosclerosis increases with age and is aggravated, but not specifically induced, by CKD. The cardiovascular events associated with atherosclerosis are more often fatal in patients with CKD than in individuals without CKD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors