Study: Blood Clot Risk Linked to Blood Pressure Drop During Dialysis

Study: Blood Clot Risk Linked to Blood Pressure Drop During DialysisAccording to a new study published in the July 29 issue of the online Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, when patients experience low blood pressure during dialysis treatment for kidney failure, they are placed at an increased risk of bloods clots where blood vessels connect to the dialysis machine, HealthDay reports.

Also, research previously done on the same topic found that when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure while patients are undergoing dialysis, complications are known to arise, such as gastrointestinal, neurologic and muscular symptoms, as well as more serious, long-term problems, such as seizure, stroke, heart damage and death.

In the study, conducted by doctors at the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers compiled and analyzed data between 1995 and 2000 from 1,426 patients who opted for dialysis treatment that was part of a clinical trial funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, according to HealthDay.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis is a treatment that performs functions that are done by healthy kidneys, and is needed during the final stages of kidney failure, when the organs can no longer function effectively.

Healthy kidneys work to remove waste, salt and excess water from the body to prevent build up, maintain safe levels of potassium, sodium and bicarbonate, and help the body control blood pressure. Dialysis is needed when the duties cannot be performed by the organs.

During dialysis, patients are attached to a machine through a fistula, a "surgically created vascular access point" that is made in the body, allowing the take and return of blood to and from the machine.

The researchers found that patients who frequently experienced low blood pressure while receiving dialysis treatment were twice as likely to form a clot in the fistula than those who had reported less frequent low blood pressure, according to HealthDay.

"Our analysis shows another adverse consequence associated with a fall in blood pressure during dialysis for patients," lead author and nephrologist Dr. Tara Chang said in a statement. "Vascular access is their lifeline. It's required for dialysis and without dialysis, they'll die."

Chang noted that low blood pressure already occurs in about 25 percent of dialysis sessions, and suggested that physicians should try, even more so than they do now, to avoid low pressure during dialysis through "various means."