Facts about Heart Disease and PKD
- Elevated blood pressure occurs in approximately 40% of PKD patients by the time they are in their twenties.
- Elevated blood pressure is associated with decreased kidney function as measured by GFR, increased renal volume and increased left ventricular heart mass in 48% of PKD patients.
- Elevated blood pressure and increased left ventricular mass are associated with congestive heart disease.
- Approximately 50% of PKD patients die from the heart and vascular complications of PKD, not renal failure.
How is heart disease related to PKD?
As cysts continue to grow, they compress blood vessels in the kidney resulting in reduced blood flow. The reduced blood flow triggers sensors which lead to a cascade of events that includes the release of angiotensin II (AII). AII is a powerful agent that acts in several ways to restore blood flow and pressure to normal levels, including the constriction of blood vessels throughout the body. Since pressure and flow in the kidney cannot be corrected due to the cysts, this becomes a broken feedback loop, with AII continuing to be released. The result is hypertension, and long-standing hypertension can lead to changes in heart muscle and, if untreated, heart damage.
These are all good reasons for PKD patients to control their blood pressure. The HALT Study is the first clinical trial to look at the blood pressure control and its effects on kidney and heart size in PKD patients.