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Kidney Int. 2007 Apr;71(8):802-7. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Association of pulse wave velocity with vascular and valvular calcification in hemodialysis patients.

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Division of Cardiology and Department of Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA, and Department of Nephrology, Ospedale San Paolo, Milan, Italy.


The recent Kidney Disease: Improving Quality Outcomes (KDIGO) recommendations called for an investigation of the relationship between various radiological methods to assess cardiovascular calcification and measures of arterial stiffness. Accordingly, in 131 adult maintenance hemodialysis patients, we investigated the association of aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) with calcification of cardiac valves on echocardiography, coronary artery, and thoracic aorta calcium on computed tomography and a calcification score of the abdominal aorta obtained on a plain abdominal X-ray. All tests were performed within a week. Mean PWV increased as the severity of coronary artery, thoracic, and abdominal aorta calcium scores increased (each P<0.05). No trend was present for number of valves with calcification. After multivariable adjustment, abdominal aorta X-ray calcium scores remained associated with PWV (P=0.004), whereas the association of PWV with thoracic aorta and coronary artery calcium scores became marginal (P=0.308 and P=0.083, respectively). No association was found between number of calcified valves and PWV. This study demonstrates a strong association between abdominal aorta calcification on plain X-ray and PWV and a borderline association with thoracic aorta and coronary artery calcification. Sudden death and congestive heart failure, two frequent causes of death in hemodialysis, are likely caused by increased arterial stiffness that can be closely predicted by the presence of aortic calcification on plain X-rays.

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