Research Grant Helps Identify Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Children With Kidney Disorders

Christine Sethna, MD

A study at Cohen Children’s Medical Center is under way to see if children with kidney problems may develop heart disease as adults. The study is funded by a research grant from The American Heart Association awarded to the director of Pediatric Nephrology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

The three-year grant was based on continuing research by Christine Sethna, MD, chief of pediatric nephrology at Cohen Children’s, into the effects of nephrotic syndrome (NS) on the cardiovascular health of children. NS causes the kidneys to leak protein from a patient’s blood into their urine.

“Adult patients with NS are believed to be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but we don’t know about children,” said Dr. Sethna. “That is the purpose of this study.” 

Cohen Children’s will be the lead hospital among a dozen hospitals across the country that will examine cardiovascular risk factors in children with NS. Co-investigators at Cohen Children’s are cardiologists Rubin Cooper, MD, chief of pediatric cardiology, Elena Kwon, MD, head of the Echocardiogram Lab, and Elizabeth Mitchell, MD.

“These children are hypertensive, have high cholesterol and they’re on multiple medications that can make their blood pressure high, so they are exposed to cardiovascular risks at an early age and we don’t know if those risks extend into their future,” said Dr. Sethna.

Pediatric patients involved with the study will undergo echocardiograms, blood work to compile a lipid profile, have the thickness and stiffness of their blood vessels examined, and 24-hour blood pressure tests.

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