What dialysis patients should know but are never told !

1) ESRD is a bad disease! Patients who dialyze three (3) times a week in typical dialysis facilities only survive five (5) years on the average. That’s three (3) times the death rate for breast cancer and double the death rate for prostate cancer. One-half (1/2) of patients over the age of 60, waiting for a transplant, will not survive long enough to receive a kidney.

2) Not only does “in center dialysis”, at three (3) times a week, have a short survival rate as a consequence, but patients frequently don’t feel well either. Patients often complain of post dialysis fatigue, living a “roller coaster” life. They feel sluggish by the time they get to the treatment and are wiped out afterwards. By the time they recover they have lost a whole day. Patients complain of being thirsty and have low energy.

3) Patients on dialysis frequently die from heart disease, a different kind of heart disease from that experienced by non-kidney patients. Heart related admissions and heart related deaths double on Monday’s and Tuesday’s. Why? Because patients go two (2) days without dialysis on weekends. It’s obvious that going two (2) days in a row without dialysis is bad for your heart. We call that the “Killer Gap” – the weekend without dialysis.

4) The reason dialysis patients have so much heart disease seems to be related to the effects of too much fluid building up between dialysis treatments. First, the heart muscles get stretched. The heart muscles thicken as a result. Then the fluid is often removed too quickly at the dialysis center (“You only have so much time and you have to reach your dry weight”).  There is a schedule to keep. The result is the removal of fluid from patients at rates that break the “safe speed limit” for regular fluid removal. This causes mini heart attacks to your heart muscle and permanent scaring of an already abnormally thickened and stiff heart muscle. So what does all of this lead to? Sudden death! From a series of avoidable issues.

5) What’s the solution? You must avoid letting things build up by dialyzing more than three (3) times a week. Dialysis centers are not set up to accommodate schedules of four (4) times or more per week. So, “to protect your heart”, you must take your treatment home. Either daily peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis.

6) You are three (3) times more likely to survive on dialysis for ten (10) years if you do home dialysis versus “in center dialysis”. We have home dialysis patients who have been dialyzing over thirty (30) years. Patients don’t just live longer, they feel better! Some of our patients do more treatments than what is prescribed because they feel better, with no down time. They experience better sleep patterns, increased appetite, improved sexual function; an overall enhanced health related quality of life. Patients gain control of their treatments. They fit dialysis into their  lives, instead of scheduling their lives around the dialysis centers schedule.