Results from the study provide recipients, donors, and transplant experts, vital safety reassurances.
There is a strong association between an increased risk of heart disease and reduced kidney function in the general population. Because kidney donors lose half of their kidney mass, is important for doctors to determine whether this risk extends to them.
Although prior investigations have indicated no increase in risk, a consensus has not yet been achieved. Hence, American, Australian, and Canadian researchers conducted a study in order to find out whther kidney donors have an increased risk of developing heart disease.
The study compared 2,028 individuals in Ontario, Canada, who donated a kidney between 1992 and 2009, with 20,280 healthy non-donors.
The team examined each donors' medical records and linked them to national healthcare databases in order to monitor major cardiovascular events over an average of 6.5 years.
In addition, they conducted additional evaluations according to year of donation to identify any tends in risk over a longer period of time.
Even though kidney donors had reduced kidney function, results from the study showed that donors had a lower risk of death or first major cardiovascular event (2.8 per 1,000 person years), than non-donors (4.1 per 1,000 person years).
In addition, the team found no considerable difference between donors and non-donors in the risk of major cardiovascular events (1.7 compared with 2 events per 1,000 person years).
Furthermore, they found no increased risk among younger donors or older donors. According to the researchers, this is probably because only healthy individuals are considered for living kidney donation, in our area, and they also undergo frequent medical follow up after donating.
The researchers highlight that the risk of major cardiovascular events in kidney donors is no higher in the first 10 years following the procedure than in matched non-donors. They add that it is possible that a link between heart disease risk and living kidney donation exists, although it takes significantly longer to manifest. As a result, they advise that donors should be monitored frequently.
According to the researchers, their study "adds to the available evidence base supporting the safety of the practice amongst carefully selected donors."
In an associated report, investigators at the University of Michigan state that the study resolves the uncertainty that continues regarding the full magnitude of risks believed by living kidney donors and "makes an important contribution to our understanding of the long term consequences of living kidney donation."
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“Cardiovascular disease in kidney donors: matched cohort study” Amit X Garg et al.
BMJ 2012; 344 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e1203 (Published 1 March 2012)
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