1. Increased urinary albumin excretion is common in patients with essential hypertension and is at least to some extent correlated with prevailing blood pressure levels. However, the generalized vascular dysfunction present in advanced atherosclerotic disease may independently influence this parameter.
2. To evaluate this possibility, we assessed blood pressure, ultrasonographic carotid thickness, cardiac mass, minimum forearm vascular resistances, metabolic parameters and the angiotensin-converting enzyme genotype in patients with untreated essential hypertension and atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease (n = 11). The results were compared with similar data obtained in matched groups of patients with uncomplicated hypertension and with normotensive control subjects (n = 11 per group).
3. Urinary albumin excretion was higher in hypertensive patients with atherosclerosis than in those without complications; carotid thickness was higher in atherosclerotic patients and a positive, statistically significant correlation existed between this parameter and urinary albumin excretion. In the same patient group, systolic blood pressure, fasting insulin and triacylglycerol levels were elevated and correlated with urinary albumin levels. However, differences in urinary albumin excretion persisted after taking into account the influence of those parameters by analysis of covariance. The distribution of angiotensin-converting enzyme genotype patterns and values of cardiac mass and minimum forearm vascular resistances did not differ significantly among the experimental groups.
4. The data suggest that vascular status may influence urinary albumin excretion in patients with essential hypertension, while confirming the importance of systolic blood pressure levels as a determinant of the raised urinary albumin excretion.