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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 May;2(3):581-90. Epub 2007 Feb 14.

Microalbuminuria and cardiovascular disease.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


To reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD), management strategies are increasingly focusing on preventive measures following early detection of markers of atherosclerosis. This review focuses on microalbuminuria, which is gaining recognition as a simple marker of an atherogenic milieu. Prospective and epidemiologic studies have found that microalbuminuria is predictive, independently of traditional risk factors, of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and CVD events within groups of patients with diabetes or hypertension, and in the general population. The pathophysiologic mechanism underlying the association between albumin excretion and CVD is not fully defined. One hypothesis is that microalbuminuria may be a marker of CVD risk because it reflects subclinical vascular damage in the kidneys and other vascular beds. It may also signify systemic endothelial dysfunction that predisposes to future cardiovascular events. Based on this theory, periodic screening for microalbuminuria could allow early identification of vascular disease and help stratify overall cardiovascular risk, especially in patients with risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes. A positive test for urinary albumin excretion could signify the need for an intensive multifactorial intervention strategy, including behavior modification and targeted pharmacotherapy, aimed at preventing further renal deterioration and improving the overall CVD risk factor profile. Data from intervention studies suggest that treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers, statins, and/or strict glycemic control (in diabetics) offer significant reductions in cardiovascular and/or renal morbidity in patients with albuminuria. Use of this (old) marker may allow improved use of medications and strategies for secondary prevention.

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