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Tracking Kidney Patients' Cardiac Risks

Factors such as hypertension, smoking most effectively predict survival

TUESDAY, April 12, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- New blood tests designed to assess a kidney patient's cardiac death risk still aren't as effective as traditional risk factors -- such hypertension or smoking -- in evaluating an older patient's survival odds, a new study finds.

"The message from this study is clear: To reduce heart disease and stroke deaths in older people with chronic kidney disease, we need to target and control traditional risk factors," study co-author Dr. Teri Manolio, director of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) epidemiology and biometry program, said in a prepared statement.

The findings come from the NHLBI-funded longitudinal Cardiovascular Health Study. That effort focused on traditional and emerging risk factors for heart disease death in more than 5,800 men and women over age 65 in four U.S. communities.

It found that study participants with chronic kidney disease who also had other cardiovascular risk factors -- diabetes, systolic high blood pressure, left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged heart), history of smoking and a sedentary lifestyle -- were at an increased risk of cardiovascular-related death compared to kidney disease patients without these characteristics.

Among these same patients, newly discovered risk factors such as elevated levels of C-reactive protein (linked to inflammation), and clotting agents such as fibrinogen or blood clotting factor VIIIc, weren't as strongly associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes.

Fortunately for patients, there are many effective interventions for reducing traditional risk factors, Manolio said. These include lowering blood sugar and reducing high blood pressure, increasing physical activity and quitting smoking.

More information

The National Kidney Disease Education Program has more about kidney disease.

SOURCE: U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, news release, April 7, 2005
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