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Cardiovascular disease in kidney donors: matched cohort study

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 01 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1203

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Re: Cardiovascular disease in kidney donors: matched cohort study

Dear Editor,

Garg and colleagues have provided important new data which contributes significantly to our understanding of the long-term consequences of living kidney donation (1). Whilst the authors should be commended for attempting to match the donor participants with the non-donor controls, it is hard to determine whether the groups were truly comparable for there is a lack of any information on blood pressure (BP).

A widely quoted meta-analysis from the same group reported an increase in systolic BP of approximately 5 mmHg in kidney donors approximately 10 years after nephrectomy (2). Taken together these data suggest that blood pressure rises significantly following kidney donation but without an accompanying increase in cardiovascular morbidity or mortality (1, 2). If this finding is confirmed, kidney donors would be the only group of patients yet studied, in which a rise in BP has not been accompanied by an increase in mortality. Indeed, in the general population, even a 2 mmHg increase in systolic BP confers a long-term increase in mortality from stroke and cardiovascular disease of 10% and 7%, respectively (3). Thus, it is likely that either the data on BP or on morbidity and mortality in kidney donors are incorrect.

Nevertheless, even if adverse changes in BP were detected this should not be regarded as a major negative finding, given that they can be so easily treated. The hidden danger is that in our well-motivated desire to improve outcomes in patients with established renal failure we falsely reassure ourselves that we have not adversely affected the donor. In order to safeguard the expanding practice of living kidney donation, we suggest that, henceforth, all donors should be invited to participate prospectively in pathophysiological as well as epidemiological studies.


1. Garg AX, Meirambayeva A, Huang A, Kim J, Prasad GV, Knoll G, et al. Cardiovascular disease in kidney donors: matched cohort study. Bmj 2012;344:e1203.
2. Boudville N, Prasad GV, Knoll G, Muirhead N, Thiessen-Philbrook H, Yang RC, et al. Meta-analysis: risk for hypertension in living kidney donors. Ann Intern Med 2006;145(3):185-96.
3. Lewington S, Clarke R, Qizilbash N, Peto R, Collins R. Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet 2002;360(9349):1903-13.

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 April 2012
William E. Moody
BHF Clinical Research Fellow and SpR Cardiology
Charles J. Ferro, Colin D. Chue, Nicola C. Edwards, Richard P. Steeds, Jonathan N. Townend.
University of Birmingham
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TH, UK.