Montreal- Receiving dialysis at home while sleeping not only improves kidney health and quality of life for people with kidney disease, it could also decrease their risk of heart disease, says new study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
"Patients with end-stage renal disease have at least a five-fold increase in cardiovascular complications," says Dr. Christopher Overgaard, one of the study's authors and a cardiologist at the Toronto General Hospital. "Longer dialysis, done while patients are sleeping, may improve the health of arteries and could lower the risk of developing heart disease."
The study found that after patients transitioned to overnight dialysis, there were improvements in coronary artery function.
Because of the frequency and duration of overnight dialysis, toxins are more evenly and gently removed from the blood. "Increasing the number of hours patients receive their treatment results in less toxin buildup in their blood for shorter durations," says Dr. Overgaard.
Impaired endothelial function - a condition that reduces blood vessel's ability to dilate - puts kidney patients at a significantly higher risk for the development of atherosclerosis (the buildup of fat in the walls of arteries). Atherosclerosis, in turn, can eventually lead to serious problems including heart attacks, stroke or even death.
Conventional hemodialysis in a clinic typically involves dialysis three times a week, for three to four hours at a time - upwards of 12 hours a week.
Contrast that with what's called overnight "home" hemodialysis, done while patients sleep at home. This method allows dialysis six times a week, for up to 12 hours at a time, for up to 72 hours.
Beyond the clinical benefits, patients on overnight dialysis no longer have to revolve much of their schedule around clinic trips.