Arterial disease in chronic kidney disease

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End stage renal disease is associated with a very high risk of premature cardiovascular death and morbidity. Early stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) is also associated with an increased frequency of cardiovascular events and is a common but poorly recognised and undertreated risk factor. Cardiovascular disease in CKD can be attributed to two distinct but overlapping pathological processes, namely atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. While the risk of athero-thrombotic events such as myocardial infarction is elevated, arteriosclerosis is the predominant pathophysiological process involving fibrosis and thickening of the medial arterial layer. This results in increased arterial stiffness causing left ventricular hypertrophy and fibrosis and the exposure of vulnerable vascular beds such as the brain and kidney to high pressure fluctuations causing small vessel disease. These pathophysiological features are manifest by a high risk of lethal arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction and stroke. Recent work has highlighted the importance of aldosterone and disordered bone mineral metabolism.

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