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Potentially lethal clotting linked to blood pressure drop during dialysis

For kidney patients, dialysis can be a life-extending procedure, but the process is not without its issues. About 25% of these patients experience a sudden drop in blood pressure while connected to the dialysis machine, which can have many short- and long-term side effects ranging from uncomfortable to deadly.

Stanford nephrologists led by Tara Chang, MD, have now uncovered yet another disturbing side effect of this sudden drop in bloog pressure: blood clotting at the site where the patients' blood vessels are connected to the machine. This site, known as the "point of vascular access," is a crucial element in dialysis, and clotting can result in its closure. Researchers found that patients whose blood pressure frequently dropped during dialysis were twice as likely to experience clotting as the point of vascular access as patients whose blood pressure remained stable more often. Chang is quoted in the release:

“There is so much we don’t know about blood pressure in people on dialysis,” she added. “We need future blood pressure management studies to look at not only mortality and hospitalization, but also consider vascular access survival as another important endpoint to study.”

The study's findings appeared this morning in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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