20 March 2006
Cardiovascular complications are a major clinical problem in patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure; cardiac death accounts for approximately 40–50% of all deaths in these patients. Death from cardiovascular causes is up to 20 times more common in uremic patients than in the general population with the risk being even higher than in patients with diabetes mellitus. A high rate of myocardial infarction and excessive cardiac mortality have repeatedly been documented in patients with kidney disease and renal failure. Not only is the prevalence of myocardial infarction high, but also the case fatality rate is significantly higher in uremic patients with and without diabetes, respectively, compared to nonuremic patients. This is of particular interest since the prevalence of coronary atheroma in uremic patients was shown to be approximately 30% by autopsy and coronary angiography studies. Thus, coronary factors, i.e. atherosclerosis, and non-coronary factors may play an important role in the genesis of cardiac complications in the renal patient. In addition, renal failure recently has also be identified as a predictor of mortality in different stages of peripheral vascular disease. In particular, marked differences in the pathogenesis, morphology and course of atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis under the conditions of renal failure have been documented. Among others increased plaque formation and particularly higher proportion and intensity of vascular calcification have been found in clinical and autopsy studies. In addition to the so-called classical or traditional risk factors, an important role for nonclassical risk factors such as microinflammation, hyperphosphatemia and oxidative stress has been documented in patients with renal failure and is discussed in detail.