Cardiovascular disease remains the most important cause of morbidity and mortality among kidney transplant recipients. Nearly half the deaths in transplanted patients are attributed to cardiac causes and almost 5% of these deaths occur within the first year after transplantation. The ideal strategies to screen for coronary artery disease (CAD) in chronic kidney disease patients who are evaluated for kidney transplantation (KT) remain controversial. The American Society of Transplantation recommends that patients with diabetes, prior history of ischemic heart disease or an abnormal ECG, or age 50 years should be considered as high-risk for CAD and referred for a cardiac stress test and only those with a positive stress test, for coronary angiography. Despite these recommendations, vast variations exist in the way these patients are screened for CAD at different transplant centers. The sensitivity and specificity of noninvasive cardiac tests in CKD patients is much lower than that in the general population. This has prompted the use of direct diagnostic cardiac catheterization in high-risk patients in several transplant centers despite the risks associated with this invasive procedure. No large randomized controlled trials exist to date that address these issues. In this article, we review the existing literature with regards to the available data on cardiovascular risk screening and management options in CKD patients presenting for kidney transplantation and outline a strategy for approach to these patients.
Keywords: Chronic kidney disease, kidney transplantation, renal transplantation, coronary artery disease, risk stratification, stress echocardiography, dobutamine echocardiography, coronary angiography, myocardial perfusion imaging
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