Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of microalbuminuria (albumin excretion rate, AER) in a wide hypertensive population, and to evaluate any relationship with cardiovascular damage and renal dysfunction.
Design: A transversal study.
Subjects and methods: In 383 hospitalized Caucasian essential hypertensives (198 men, 185 women) of mean age 44 +/- 0.5 years and mean clinic blood pressure 170.3 +/- 0.95/ 103.4 +/- 0.47 mmHg, metabolic parameters, serum creatinine level (Cs), creatinine clearance rate (Ccs), 24 AER and plasma renin activity (PRA) were measured. Furthermore, each patient underwent 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) and echocardiography to measure left ventricular mass, which was indexed both by body surface area to obtain left ventricular mass index (LVMI) and by height to obtain the left ventricular mass indexed for height (LVMH). By Doppler echocardiography, the diastolic compliance by early:late peak filling velocity ratio was analysed. The fundus oculi was also observed. Three subsets of hypertensives were obtained by dividing the 383 essential hypertensives on the basis of their AER: < or = 11 (group A), 11 < or = 20 (group B) and > 20 micrograms/min (group C).
Main outcome measures: Microalbuminuria, creatinine clearance, PRA, ABPM, LVMI, LVMH, early:late peak filling velocity ratio, hypertensive retinopathy.
Results: Among the 383 essential hypertensives, AER was < 11 micrograms/min in 55% of the patients (group A), 18% had AER in the range 11-20 micrograms/min (group B) and 27% had AER > 20 micrograms/min (group C). In the entire essential hypertensive population the prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy was 44.39% and hypertensive retinopathy was observed in 54.83%. Moreover, AER significantly correlated with clinic systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), with 24 SBP and DBP and with 24 h daytime and night-time mean blood pressure (MBP). AER was correlated also with LVMH and creatinine clearance. The analysis of the three subsets revealed no differences in age, body mass index, serum creatinine level and PRA. Group C in comparison with group A showed higher values of clinic SBP, 24 h SBP, DBP and MBP, and of daytime and night-time MBP. Furthermore, in group C, LVMI and LVMH were significantly greater than in group A, with a prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy of 55% in the former group. Group C showed a prevalence of hypertensive retinopathy of 69% whereas in group A the prevalence was 48%. In group C, AER was significantly correlated with serum creatinine level.
Conclusions: The transversal phase of our research, performed in a homogeneous population of Caucasian essential hypertensives with no metabolic disturbances, confirms the relationship between blood pressure pattern and early glomerular changes in essential hypertensives without overt proteinuria. Furthermore, these results emphasize the role of microalbuminuria as a marker of early cardiac, renal and retinal structural and functional changes in essential hypertension. The longitudinal study, which is in progress, will confirm the prognostic value of microalbuminuria in essential hypertension.