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Study shows daily dialysis may boost patients' heart function, physical health

Increasing the frequency of weekly dialysis sessions for patients with kidney failure could improve their cardiovascular health and quality of life, according to findings published online this weekend in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the randomized clinical trial, 245 patients were assigned to a one-year dialysis treatment plan of either three days a week, the standard approach for the past 40 years, or a daily regimen. Participants underwent MRIs and completed surveys at the beginning and end of the study to determine the affect of more frequent dialysis. According to a Stanford release:

Both [cardiovascular health and quality of life] were found to improve significantly with the six-day-a-week treatment plan… The study also showed that frequent dialysis improved control of hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperphosphatemia (high levels of phosphate in the blood), two conditions that affect the majority of patients with kidney failure.

Glenn Chertow, MD, chief of the Stanford nephrology division and lead author of the study, explained in a Bloomberg article what the trial results mean for treating patients with kidney failure:

A healthy kidney doesn’t only operate three times a week and it makes sense that the closer we approximate the natural kidney function the better it will be for the patient. At the very least, this study suggests that our very uniform approach to dialysis needs to be reconsidered and more personalized treatment plans developed.

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