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Two days off may be too long for dialysis patients

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September 21, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Death rates are highest for dialysis patients in the day after a two-day break.
Death rates are highest for dialysis patients in the day after a two-day… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

People undergoing kidney dialysis often have three treatments a week -- which means they have a two-day-off break each week. But a new study suggests this regimen may be too risky for people with end-stage kidney disease.

Researchers at the U.S. Renal Data System and the University of Minnesota examined death rates among 32,065 people receiving dialysis three times a week during the years of 2005 though 2008. They found that death rates from any cause -- including deaths linked to renal failure -- were highest on the day following the two-day-off interval compared to any other day of the week.

The study did not determine whether death rates were highest in the morning, afternoon or evening, but previous studies have indicated that the lowest death rates are among people having dialysis in the morning.

Hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions were also higher on the day after a two-day break, the study found.

Death rates among dialysis patients in the United States are unacceptably high, researchers say. Some studies have shown that daily dialysis treatment could lower death rates. The study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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