Endothelial dysfunction in haemophilia patients


Maria Teresa Sartori, MD, 2nd Chair Internal Medicine, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128 Padova, Italy. Tel.: +39 0498212653; fax: +39 0498218731; e-mail: mtsart@unipd.it


Summary.  Haemophilia patients may develop cardiovascular diseases, suggesting that their clotting defect does not protect them completely from atherosclerosis and its complications. We aimed to evaluate cardiovascular risk factors and, for the first time, the presence of endothelial dysfunction in middle-aged haemophilia patients. We studied 40 patients with haemophilia A and B (24 with moderate–severe disease and 16 with mild disease), and 40 healthy controls. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD), carotid ultrasound (US) intima media thickness (IMT), arterial blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, lipoprotein(a) and homocysteine levels were measured, and PAI-1 and t-PA levels before and after venous occlusion (VO), and antibodies to HIV, HBV and HCV were assayed. At least one cardiovascular risk factor was detected in 87.5% of patients, and 2 or more in 47.5% of cases. At US exam, none of the patients had significant carotid stenosis or significant differences in IMT compared to controls. In contrast, all the patients had a significant FMD impairment, associated with a reduced t-PA release after VO in 70% of cases. PAI-1 levels significantly correlated with BMI, triglycerides and insulin values. Fifteen haemophilia patients with chronic viral hepatitis and/or HIV infection showed a significantly lower FMD than patients without active infection. We found an endothelial dysfunction with impaired FMD and t-PA release in our haemophilia patients, usually associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Other pathogenic mechanisms, such as chronic viral infections, are likely to be involved in this endothelial damage, however.