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Blood Purif. 2005;23(1):57-63.

Reverse epidemiology: a spurious hypothesis or a hardcore reality?

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Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Torrance, CA 90509-2910, USA.


In maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) patients, associations between demographic, clinical and laboratory values and mortality, including cardiovascular death, are significantly different and, in some cases, in the opposite direction of those derived from the general population. This phenomenon, termed 'reverse epidemiology', is not limited to MHD patients but is also observed in populations that encompass an estimated 20 million Americans including those with an advanced age, heart failure, malignancies, and AIDS. A significant portion of this reversal may be due to the overwhelming effect of the malnutrition-inflammation complex syndrome (MICS). Since two thirds of MHD patients die within 5 years of initiation of dialysis treatment, traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension cannot exert a long-term deleterious impact, and instead, their short-term beneficial effects on MICS provides a survival advantage. In order to improve survival and quality of life in MHD patients, extrapolated ideal norms derived from the general population should be substituted with novel norms obtained from outcome-oriented epidemiologic analyses while accounting for the differential effect of MICS in different case-mix subgroups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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