Coronary Calcium Helps Predict Heart Disease Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

First Posted: Aug 25, 2014 06:27 AM EDT

Researchers have identified calcium build-up in the coronary artery as a novel indicator of heart diseases in patients of chronic kidney disease.

The study conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health evaluated 6,553 adults aged between 45-84 years, who did not have any history of cardiovascular disease. They were part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. They found that build-up of calcium in the coronary arteries helps to better predict kidney disease patients' risk of developing heart diseases as compared to the other traditional risk factors used in general population.

One of the leading causes of death in those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is heart disease. Studies conducted earlier have found that the conventional risk factor used to predict the risk of developing heart diseases is not that effective for those with CKD.

In this study, the researchers tried to find out if measurement of calcium in the blood vessel walls helps in evaluating the risk factor. This is because kidney helps to control the calcium levels in the body, and those with CKD had altered calcium metabolism, this may impact the calcium in the coronary artery walls as an indicator of heart disease.

Among the total number of participants, 1,284 were diagnosed with CKD. The subjects were followed for 8.4 years. A total of 650 cardiovascular events were recorded, out of which 236 occurred in those with CKD. The cardiovascular events include coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and peripheral artery disease.

The researchers noticed that when compared to other measures of atherosclerosis like thickness of carotid walls and narrowing of arteries in the legs, the build-up of calcium in the coronary artery walls was very useful in determining the risk of cardiovascular disease in CKD patients, mainly coronary heart disease and heart failure.

"Our research is important since it assures the usefulness of coronary artery calcium for better cardiovascular disease prediction in persons with CKD, a population at high risk for cardiovascular disease but with potential caveats for the use of traditional risk factors," said Dr. Matsushita.

The study was documented in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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