Malnutrition, cardiac disease, and mortality: an integrated point of view

Am J Kidney Dis. 1998 Nov;32(5):834-41. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(98)70148-9.


Malnutrition and hypoalbuminemia, which are prevalent in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), are strong predictors of increased mortality. However, cardiovascular disease predominates among direct causes of death, whereas malnutrition appears to be of minor importance in this respect. Reports in the literature demonstrate that cardiac failure may cause malnutrition and that infection/inflammation may predispose to atherosclerosis as well as to catabolism and hypoalbuminemia. Proinflammatory cytokines, generated in response to cardiac failure, infection, and other inflammatory stimuli, appear to play a pivotal role by causing muscle wasting, hypoalbuminemia, and anorexia as well as reduced cardiac contractility and atherosclerotic vascular disease. We hypothesize that this scenario also applies to ESRD patients, in whom congestion, hypertension, cardiac failure, and ischemic cardiovascular disease are common. Malnutrition rarely may be the direct cause of death, except in elderly dialysis patients, but may contribute to a poor prognosis by aggravating pre-existing heart failure and increasing the susceptibility to infections.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anorexia / etiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Cardiac Output, Low / complications
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Forecasting
  • Heart Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Survival Rate


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Serum Albumin