Vascular Calcification in Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease

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Vascular calcification is very prevalent in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). In addition to having more traditional cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, CKD patients also have a number of non-traditional CV risk factors that may play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of vascular calcification. The transformation of vascular smooth muscle cells into osteoblast-like cells seems to be a key element in the pathogenesis of vascular calcification in the presence of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) deposition due to abnormal bone metabolism and impaired renal excretion. Vascular calcification causes increased arterial stiffness, left ventricular hypertrophy, decreased coronary artery perfusion, myocardial ischemia, and increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although current treatment strategies focus on correcting abnormal Ca, P, parathyroid hormone, or vitamin D levels in CKD, a better understanding of the mechanisms of abnormal tissue calcification may lead to the development of new therapeutic agents that are capable of reducing vascular calcification and improving the CV outcome of CKD patients. This review article summarizes the following: (i) the pathophysiological mechanism responsible for vascular calcification; (ii) the methods of detecting vascular calcification in CKD patients; and (iii) the treatment of vascular calcification in CKD patients.

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