People with kidney disease are at an increased risk of stroke and heart attack compared to the general population. Though chronic kidney disease and heart attack share two chief risk factors - high blood pressure and diabetes, the underlying mechanisms that link the two diseases were not clear until now.
A new study, led by researchers at the University of Bristol, has now identified the mechanisms in kidney disease that can contribute to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack by about the same amount as smoking.
The study used animal models with a form of chronic kidney disease similar to the kidney disease seen in people. The researchers found that the inner lining of blood vessels throughout the body was damaged. It is this inner lining, comprising of a thick layer of sugars and proteins, which offers protection to blood vessel walls. But when this protective lining gets damaged, then blood vessels become leaky and inflamed, and previous studies have shown that damage to this inner layer speeds up the process of atherosclerosis, say the researchers. Atherosclerosis, which refers to hardening of arteries, can cause heart attack or stroke.
The researchers also found that "substances that stick to the inner layer improve the function of the damaged blood vessels, by making the vessels less leaky".
Commenting on the breakthrough, Andy Salmon, lead author of the study said: "These findings are important as it may mean that protecting or even restoring the inner layer could provide protection to blood vessels." He also added that there is still much more to explore.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
by RTT Staff Writer
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