Background: Cardiac and vascular mortality are common in end-stage renal disease (ERSD) and are often attributed to accelerated atherosclerosis.
Subjects and methods: We studied 24 non-diabetic ESRD patients without cardiac or vascular disease (M = 12, F = 12) and 24 age-, sex- and race-matched healthy controls. All underwent B-mode ultrasound for carotid and femoral intima media thickness (IMT) and plaque (% stenosis) together with blood pressure (BP), and echocardiograms to determine left ventricular mass.
Results: Both BP and mean IMT were similar in patients and controls. However, discrete plaque was present in 71% (17/24) of patients compared with 21% (5/24) of controls (P = 0.001), and % stenosis was greater in patients (carotid 12.2 +/- 11% vs 2.3 +/- 5.9%, P < 0.0004; femoral 16.4 +/- 19.1% vs 3.1 +/- 6.4%, P < 0.003). Plaque was soft/atheromatous in 3 of the 5 controls, but not in any of the 17 patients (P = 0.007), all of whom had calcified lesions. BP and cholesterol were not correlated with IMT or plaque in patients, but in control subjects carotid IMT was correlated with systolic BP (r = 0.66, P < 0.0005) and diastolic BP (r = 0.45, P < 0.03). In patients, the only independent variables related to vascular morphology were serum albumin which was inversely related to IMT (P < 0.03) and to plaque (carotid P < 0.05, femoral P < 0.02) and age, which was related to femoral plaque only (P < 0.04). Left ventricular end-diastolic internal dimension, not LVMI, correlated positively with carotid IMT (P < 0.04).
Conclusion: Our results show that calcified plaque is common in ESRD patients and hypoalbuminaemia may be an associated factor.