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Ms. E. van den Berg: Nutrition and cardiovascular health in renal transplant recipients

When:We 06-03-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Ms. E. van den Berg, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Nutrition and cardiovascular health in renal transplant recipients

Promotor(s): prof. G.J. Navis, prof. R.O.B. Gans

Faculty: Medical Sciences

In the Netherlands, about 900 kidney transplantations are carried out each year. A kidney transplantation improves both quality of life and life expectancy of patients with chronic renal disease. Despite this, their risk of developing cardiovascular disease is five times higher as compared to the general population. Cardiovascular diseases not only result in increased mortality, they also lead to damage of the renal graft, even when protective drugs are being used. Therefore, it is of vital importance to prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease after kidney transplantation.

Studies among the general population indicate the importance of healthy food to prevent cardiovascular diseases. No data are available on the role of nutrition in the physical health of renal transplant recipients. Else van den Berg investigated the dietary habits of a large cohort of renal transplant recipients and the association of several nutrients with cardiovascular risk factors. In these patients, high salt intake was related to high blood pressure. Furthermore, an association was observed between the diet and the acidity of the blood and also between dietary patterns, such as low vegetable intake, and high cardiovascular risk.

Altogether, this study shows that with healthier foods, a large health benefit could be gained in renal transplant recipients. Based on these results, the ‘Lifestyle Medicine Program’ was recently launched in de University Medical Center Groningen. Within this framework, renal transplant recipients are counselled shortly after transplantation to improve their dietary habits. The investigators expect healthy dietary habits to contribute to both quality of life and life expectancy in this growing patient group.