Cardiovascular risk assessment before and after kidney transplantation

Daniel Glicklich, Parag Vohra
Cardiology in Review 2014, 22 (4): 153-62
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in dialysis patients and the most common cause of death and allograft loss among kidney transplant recipients. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is associated with an increased incidence and prevalence of a wide range of CVDs including coronary artery disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, sudden cardiac death, pulmonary hypertension, and valvular heart disease. CVD risk factors are very common in patients with ESRD, and most patients have multiple risk factors. Kidney transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with ESRD, as a successful transplant improves longevity and quality of life, primarily by decreasing the incidence and severity of CVD. Correction of the uremic state and improved glomerular filtration rate seem to be the major mechanism of this benefit. Transplant candidates should undergo cardiovascular assessment, usually echocardiography and exercise stress testing, and may require formal cardiology consultation. Higher risk candidates, including those aged >50 years, hypertension, diabetes, established coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease, left ventricular hypertrophy, and dialysis duration >1 year, should have repeat cardiovascular assessment every 1-2 years. Transplant candidates and recipients should have individualized treatment for CVD and risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and obesity. Special consideration should be given for statin therapy, as its use is associated with decreased cardiovascular death in dialysis and transplant patients. Prospective randomized, controlled trials are needed to determine the optimal approach to diagnosis and treat CVD in the transplant candidate and recipient population.

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