Hypertension after kidney transplant.

Document Type


Publication Date



Medical Education

Journal Title

American journal of kidney diseases : the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation

MeSH Headings

Antihypertensive Agents, Blood Pressure, Glomerular Filtration Rate, Humans, Hypertension, Kidney Failure, Chronic, Kidney Transplantation, Male, Middle Aged, Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant, Treatment Outcome


Hypertension in kidney transplant recipients is a major "traditional" risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Importantly, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and a major factor in death-censored graft failure in transplant recipients. The blood pressure achieved after transplant is related inversely to postoperative glomerular filtration rate (GFR), with many patients experiencing a significant improvement in blood pressure control with fewer medications within months of surgery. However, the benefits of improved GFR and fluid status may be affected by the immunosuppression regimen. Immunosuppressive agents affect hypertension through a variety of mechanisms, including catechol- and endothelin-induced vasoconstriction, abrogation of nitric oxide-induced vasodilatation, and sodium retention. Most notable is the role of calcineurin inhibitors in promoting hypertension, cyclosporine more so than tacrolimus. Additionally, the combination of calcineurin- and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-inhibitor therapy is synergistically nephrotoxic and promotes hypertension, whereas steroid withdrawal and minimization strategies seem to have little or no impact on hypertension. Other important causes of hypertension after transplant, beyond a progressive decrease in GFR, include transplant renal artery stenosis and sequelae of antibody-mediated rejection. Calcium channel blockers may be the most useful medication for mitigating calcineurin inhibitor-induced vasoconstriction, and use of such agents may be associated with improvements in GFR. Use of inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers, remains an attractive strategy for many transplant recipients, although some recipients may have significant adverse effects associated with these medications, including decreased GFR, hyperkalemia, and anemia. In conclusion, hypertension control affects both patient and long-term transplant survival, and its best management requires careful analysis of causes and close monitoring of therapies.



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