Cardiovascular complications in renal failure

Academic Article


  • Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) largely as a result of the progressively increasing age of ESRD patients and the broad constellation of uremia-associated factors that can adversely affect cardiac function. Hypertension, one of the leading causes of renal failure, is a major culprit in this process, causing left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiac chamber dilation, increased left ventricular wall stress, redistribution of coronary blood flow, reduced coronary artery vasodilator reserve, ischemia, myocardial fibrosis, heart failure, and arrhythmias. In addition to impairing the coronary microcirculation, hypertension may contribute to the development of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, particularly in the presence of the many lipid abnormalities observed in ESRD. These patients have reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increased plasma triglyceride concentrations, and there is a defect in cholesterol transport. Other abnormalities that may contribute to atherosclerotic coronary artery disease in ESRD are reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol synthesis and reduced activity of the reverse cholesterol pathway. Treatment with fibric acids, nicotinic acids, and lovastatin may be useful in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in some of these patients. The incidence of coronary artery disease in ESRD populations is difficult to determine. About 25 to 30% of ESRD patients with angina have no evidence of significant coronary artery disease, and an undetermined number have silent coronary disease. The presence of resting electrocardiographic abnormalities caused by hypertension or conduction defects makes it difficult to accurately diagnosis coronary artery disease in ESRD populations by noninvasive methods, including exercise testing and thallium scintigraphy with or without the use of dipyridamole. Hypotension is a frequent complication of the dialytic process. Many factors have been implicated, including autonomic neuropathy. There is no concensus on the function of the efferent limb of the sympathetic nervous system. The afferent limb (arterial baroreflex function) is felt to be impaired. Further, there may be defects in the ability of the cardiovascular system to respond to sympathetic nerve activity. Most studies of autonomic function have used indirect measurements. Studies are underway that use techniques to assess sympathetic function directly. Such experiments with microneuropathy suggest greater skeletal sympathetic muscle discharge in uremic patients than in normal patients.
  • Authors

    Author List

  • Rostand SG; Brunzell JD; Cannon RO; Victor RG
  • Start Page

  • 1053
  • End Page

  • 1062
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 6