Hemodialysis Treatment for Kidney Failure

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Financial Issues

Treatment for kidney failure is expensive, but Federal health insurance plans pay much of the cost, usually up to 80 percent. Often, private insurance or State programs pay the rest. Your social worker can help you locate resources for financial assistance. For more information, see the NIDDK fact sheet Financial Help for Treatment of Kidney Failure.

Hope Through Research

The NIDDK, through its Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases, supports several programs and studies devoted to improving treatment for patients with progressive kidney disease and permanent kidney failure, including patients on hemodialysis.

  • The End-Stage Renal Disease Program promotes research to reduce medical problems from bone, blood, nervous system, metabolic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and endocrine abnormalities in kidney failure and to improve the effectiveness of dialysis and transplantation. The research focuses on evaluating different hemodialysis schedules and on finding the most useful information for measuring dialysis adequacy. The program also seeks to increase kidney graft and patient survival and to maximize quality of life.
  • The HEMO Study, completed in 2002, tested the theory that a higher dialysis dose and/or high-flux membranes would reduce patient mortality (death) and morbidity (medical problems). Doctors at 15 medical centers recruited more than 1,800 hemodialysis patients and randomly assigned them to high or standard dialysis doses and high- or low-flux filters. The study found no increase in the health or survival of patients who had a higher dialysis dose, who dialyzed with high-flux filters, or who did both.
  • The U.S. Renal Data System (USRDS) collects, analyzes, and distributes information about the use of dialysis and transplantation to treat kidney failure in the United States. The USRDS is funded directly by the NIDDK in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The USRDS publishes an Annual Data Report, which identifies the total population of people being treated for kidney failure; reports on incidence, prevalence, death rates, and trends over time; and develops data on the effects of various treatment approaches. The report also helps identify problems and opportunities for more focused special studies of renal research issues.
  • The Hemodialysis Vascular Access Clinical Trials Consortium is conducting a series of multicenter, clinical trials of drug therapies to reduce the failure and complication rate of arteriovenous (AV) grafts and fistulas in hemodialysis. These studies are randomized and placebo controlled, which means the studies meet the highest standard for scientific accuracy. AV grafts and fistulas prepare the arteries and veins for regular dialysis. See the NIDDK fact sheet Vascular Access for Hemodialysis for more information. Recently developed drugs to prevent blood clots may be evaluated in these large clinical trials.

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