Microalbuminuria and cardiovascular risk


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Abstract

Microalbuminuria is a marker for generalized vascular dysfunction. Its prevalence in United States and European general population surveys ranges from 6% to 10%. Increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality begins with albumin excretion rates that are well within normal limits. Although microalbuminuria interacts with the traditional cardiovascular risk factors, it has an independent relationship to renal and cardiovascular outcomes. For example, microalbuminuria doubles the risk for a cardiovascular event in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus even after adjusting for the usual risk factors. Elevated rates of urinary albumin excretion predict target organ damage, notably renal disease, but are also related to left ventricular dysfunction, stroke, and myocardial infarction. Screening for microalbuminuria, which is recommended by several expert committees and associations, has become a readily accessible procedure. Screening can give clinicians prognostic information concerning cardiovascular risk and assist in guiding therapy. The goal of treatment is to prevent progression of, and even to reverse, microalbuminuria. Abundant evidence demonstrates that antihypertensive therapy is an important key to the control of urinary albumin excretion, and blockade of the renin-angiotensin system (with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers) is the treatment of choice. These drugs have successfully halted or delayed the progression to nephropathy and have reversed elevated rates of albumin excretion to normal values, even when blood pressure reduction has been minimal.Am J Hypertens 2004;17:986-993 © 2004 American Journal of Hypertension, Ltd.

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