Skin Sodium Levels Associated Cardiovascular Problems in Chronic Kidney Disease

Targeting skin sodium content may have beneficial effects on the heart in patients with kidney disease.

Study findings suggest a strong correlation between skin sodium content and left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Patients with chronic kidney disease have a higher risk of heart problems and death from cardiovascular causes than those without the disease. The increased risk is due in part to the high prevalence and severity of left ventricular hypertrophy.

Prior studies suggest that excessive sodium intake may play a role in the cause of left ventricular hypertrophy, although this remains unclear.

Research has shown that tissues, such as skin and muscle, may store sodium. In a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, investigators sought to determine whether sodium deposition in these storage areas was related to the degree of left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with chronic kidney disease.

The investigators used 23Na-magnetic resonance imaging to measure skin sodium content at the level of the calf in 99 patients with mild to moderate chronic kidney disease. Total body water levels, 24-hour blood pressure, and left ventricular mass was also assessed.

The results of the study showed that skin sodium content was correlated with systolic blood pressure, whereas, total body water was not. Furthermore, there was a stronger correlation between skin sodium content and left ventricular mass compared with total body water.

Through additional analyses, the findings suggest that skin sodium is a strong explanatory variable of left ventricular mass and is independent of blood pressure or total body water, the investigators concluded.

“We believe that skin sodium reflects deposition of excess sodium,” said investigator Markus Schneider, MD. “Our finding of a strong relationship between skin sodium and changes in the structure of the heart suggests that interventions that reduce skin sodium content—–for example dietary sodium restriction or medications that lead to increased sodium excretion––may have beneficial effects on the heart in patients with kidney disease.”