From Our 2012 Archives
More Kidney Dialysis Is Better, Research Finds
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THURSDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- If you're receiving kidney dialysis, four new studies suggest that you could benefit from longer or more frequent dialysis sessions.
The treatments can be done at home or at a dialysis center, but it appears that more time spent doing dialysis can reduce mortality rates and improve quality of life, according to the research published online and in the March issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
"What all of these studies show is that the more time your kidneys are getting cleaned, the better off you are," said Dr. Robert Provenzano, chairman of the department of nephrology at St. John Providence Health System in Detroit. Provenzano was not involved in the research.
When someone's kidneys fail, the only options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. Because there aren't enough donor kidneys to give transplants to everyone who needs one, many people must turn to dialysis. In dialysis, a machine takes over many of the jobs of the kidneys, such as filtering excess fluid and waste. In the United States, almost 400,000 people undergo dialysis every year, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In 2008, fewer than 18,000 people received a kidney transplant, according to NIDDK.
But, dialysis isn't perfect. It may not remove enough fluid, and levels of important nutrients can get out of balance for people on dialysis, according to background information in one of the studies. In addition, people on dialysis have to eat a limited diet.
Provenzano said improving dialysis is a big issue, and one of the biggest questions has been whether more dialysis is better. And, he said, "If it's true that more is better, is it longer individual sessions or more frequent dialysis that's most beneficial?"
Previous research has suggested that longer dialysis sessions seem to provide a benefit without increasing the risks of complications. One past study found that more frequent dialysis could increase the risk of problems with the dialysis access area.
Here's what the current studies found:
The bottom line, Provenzano said, is to "dialyze the maximum amount of time you possibly can, based on your lifestyle. Get your family actively involved in your care and, if you can, keep working. Quality of life is significantly improved if you keep working. Dialysis is not a reason to stop working or doing activities. Stay active. You'll feel better."
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SOURCES: Eric Weinhandl, M.S., epidemiologist, Chronic Disease Research Group, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation; Robert Provenzano, M.D., chairman, department of nephrology, St. John Providence Health System, Detroit; March 2012 Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
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