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Blood pressure drop during dialysis and clot risk

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, July 2011

Blood pressure drop during dialysis and clot risk

Low blood pressure while undergoing dialysis puts patients at risk for clots where their blood vessels are connected to the dialysis machine.

Dialysis is a treatment for kidney-failure patients that use a machine to cleanse their blood by exchanging fluid and electrolytes across a membrane. Many patients are attached to the dialysis machine through a fistula, a surgically created vascular access point in the body that's connected to the tubes that take and return blood to the dialysis machine.

Previous research had found that a sudden drop in blood pressure during dialysis can lead to short-term gastrointestinal, muscular and neurologic symptoms, and long-term problems such as stroke, seizure, heart damage and death.

Researchers in America examined data collected between 1995 and 2000 from 1,426 dialysis patients and found that patients who experienced low blood pressure most often while undergoing dialysis were two times more likely to have a clotted fistula than those who had the fewest episodes of low blood pressure.

This study shows another adverse consequence associated with a fall in blood pressure during dialysis for patients. Vascular access is their lifeline as it is required for dialysis and without dialysis, they'll die.

Because low blood pressure occurs in about one-quarter of dialysis sessions, physicians already try to avoid low blood pressure during the procedure through various means. This is just one more good reason to continue these efforts.

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