National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Kidney Disease Research Updates
Summer 2011

More Frequent Dialysis Helps Kidney Patients

Photo of a person with IV tubing in the left arm. The tubing has blood in it and is connected to a dialysis machine.

Kidney patients fare better on an almost-daily hemodialysis regimen than on the standard three-times-a-week plan, according to the Frequent Hemodialysis Network (FHN) Daily Trial funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The finding could lead to changes in the standard of care for patients who need dialysis.

Nearly 400,000 Americans depend on dialysis to survive. Dialysis is needed when the kidneys can no longer remove wastes and extra fluid from the body. In hemodialysis, the most common kind of dialysis, blood flows through a special filter that removes wastes and extra fluids. The filtered blood is then returned to the body.

Despite recent advances in technology and medication, up to one in five patients on dialysis die each year. Scientists set out to test whether adding more dialysis sessions could improve patients’ survival and well being. They randomly assigned nearly 250 dialysis patients to two groups. One group received six treatments a week. The other received three treatments a week.

The scientists found that patients receiving more frequent dialysis had improved heart health, blood pressure, and overall health. More frequent treatments also helped avoid high blood phosphate levels, a common problem for dialysis patients. A downside to more frequent dialysis was that access to blood vessels needed to be modified about twice as often.

“We confirmed that by administering dialysis more often, although with a smaller dose each time, we could effectively deliver a higher weekly dose overall,” said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P., NIDDK. “As a result, patients’ hearts remained healthier, they enjoyed better blood pressure control and they enjoyed better physical health than those receiving the standard three treatments per week.”

The FHN Daily Trial was not designed to detect differences in mortality between treatment groups. However, the study showed promising results that more frequent dialysis could be of benefit to some patients. For more information on the FHN Daily Trial, search for NCT00264758 at www.ClinicalTrials.gov. To learn about kidney disease, go to www.nkdep.nih.gov.

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, part of the NIDDK, offers fact sheets and easy-to-read booklets about kidney disease and dialysis. For more information or to obtain copies, visit www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov.

 

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NIH Publication No. 11–4531
September 2011


 

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

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