Does Treatment with Vitamin D Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Hemodialysis Patients?

MedicalResearch.comInterview with:

Tetsuo Shoji, MD, PhD.
Department of Vascular Medicine
Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
Osaka Japan
Dr. Shoji

Tetsuo Shoji, MD, PhD.
Department of Vascular Medicine
Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
Osaka Japan

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Vitamin D is known to be associated with health and disease of various organs such as bone, heart, brain, and others. Vitamin D is activated by the liver and kidneys to a hormone called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D which binds to vitamin D receptor in cells to exert its functions.

Vitamin D activation is severely impaired in patients with kidney disease requiring hemodialysis therapy, leading to mineral and bone disorder(MBD). Therefore, active form of vitamin D is one of the standard choices of treatment for MBD caused by kidney function loss.

Previous observational cohort studies showed that the use of active vitamin D in hemodialysis patients was associated with lower likelihood of all-cause death, cardiovascular death, and incident cardiovascular disease.Potentially cardio-protective effects of active vitamin D were shown by basic studies using cultured cells and animal models. Then, many nephrologists began to believe that active vitamin D is a “longevity hormone” or a “panacea” for kidney patients requiring dialysis therapy, although there was no evidence by randomized clinical trials. 

To show evidence for it, we conducted a randomized clinical trial namedJ-DAVID in which 976 hemodialysis patients were randomly assigned to treatment with oral alfacalcidol or treatment without active vitamin D, and they were followed-up for new cardiovascular events during the four-year period. The risk of cardiovascular events was not significantly different between the two groups. The risk of all-cause death was not significantly different either.

To our surprise, the risk of cardiovascular event tended to be higher in the patients who continued treatment with active vitamin D than those who continued non-use of active vitamin D, although the difference was not statistically significant.

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Medicaid Expansion Linked To Lower Death Rates for Kidney Failure Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Plugged into dialysis" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0Amal Trivedi, MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice
Associate Professor of Medicine
Brown University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion gave states the option to expand coverage to low-income adults. Prior research has reported that these expansions have been associated with increased coverage, improved access to care, and in some studies better self-rated health. To date the impact of Medicaid expansion on mortality rates, particularly for persons with serious chronic illness, remains unknown.

Our study found an association between Medicaid expansion and lower death rates for patients with end-stage renal disease in the first year after initiating dialysis.  Specifically, we found an absolute reduction in 1-year mortality in expansion states of -0.6 percentage points, which represents a 9% relative reduction in 1-year mortality.      Continue reading

Continuing Statins from Late Chronic Kidney Disease through ESRD Linked to Improved Survival

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Plugged into dialysis" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Elani Streja MPH PhD

Division of Nephrology and Hypertension
University of California, Irvine | UCI ·
Elvira O. Gosmanova, MD, FASN
Medicine/Nephrology
Albany Stratton VA Medical Center


Csaba P Kovesdy MD

Fred Hatch Professor of Medicine
Division of Nephrology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Nephrology Section Chief, Memphis VA Medical Center
Director, Clinical Outcomes and Clinical Trials Program
Memphis TN, 38163 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Statins are lipid-lowering drugs that have a proven track record in reducing risk of CVD in patients with advanced CKD who did not yet reach its terminal stage or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Paradoxically, new prescription of statins after ESRD onset failed to reduce CVD related outcomes in three large clinical trials. However, benefits of statin continuation at transition from advanced CKD to ESRD was never formally tested.

Therefore, we identified a cohort of 14,298 US Veterans who used statins for at least half of the year during 1 year before ESRD transition and evaluated mortality outcomes based on whether statins were continued or stopped after ESRD onset.

We found that ESRD patients who continue statins for at least 6 months after transition had 28% and 18% lower risk of death from any cause or cardiovascular causes, respectively, during 12-months of follow up, as compared with statin discontinuers. Continue reading

Gabapentin and Pregabalin Should Be Used Cautiously in Hemodialysis Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Julie H. Ishida MD Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Dr. Ishida

Dr. Julie H. Ishida MD
Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
University of California, San Francisco and
San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Gabapentin and pregabalin are used for the management of symptoms such as neuropathic pain, itching, and restless leg syndrome in patients receiving hemodialysis. However, hemodialysis patients may be particularly vulnerable to adverse events related to these agents, which are cleared by the kidney, but there is limited data evaluating their risk in this population.

Gabapentin and pregabalin use were associated with risk for altered mental status, fall, and fracture, and in some cases, even at doses that would be considered safe for use in this population.  Continue reading

Lack of Dialysis Access for Undocumented Immigrants Stresses Patients and Providers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lilia Cervantes, M.D. Internal Medicine, Hospitalist Denver Health and Hospital Authority Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine Founder, Healthcare Interest Program and Health Equity Lecture Series at Denver Health University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Dr. Cervantes

Lilia Cervantes, M.D.
Internal Medicine, Hospitalist
Denver Health and Hospital Authority
Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
Founder, Healthcare Interest Program and Health Equity Lecture Series
at Denver Health
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response:  For most undocumented immigrants with kidney failure in the U.S., access to hemodialysis is limited and they can only receive it when they are critically ill and near-death.  This type of “emergency-only” hemodialysis is already known to be nearly 4-fold more costly, has 14-fold higher mortality rate, and leads to debilitating physical and psychosocial distress for these patients compared to those receiving regular hemodialysis.

This study shows that clinicians who are forced to provide this substandard care are also harmed.  They experience moral distress, emotional exhaustion, and several other drives of professional burnout due to witnessing needless suffering and high mortality.  Continue reading

Majority of Dialysis Patients Unemployed

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hemodialysis machine Wikipedia image

Hemodialysis machine
Wikipedia image

Dr. Kevin F. Erickson MD, MS
Section of Nephrology and Selzman Institute for Kidney Health
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: An amendment to the Social Security Act passed in 1972 made it so nearly every person who develops end-stage renal disease – or ESRD – in the U.S. becomes eligible for Medicare, regardless of their age. At the time the law was passed, the bill’s supporters argued that access to life-sustaining dialysis therapy would enable patients to continue being productive members of society through work and activities at home. While the law has succeeded in providing access to dialysis therapy for many patients who would have otherwise died from kidney failure, it has been less successful at helping patients to continue working. The rate of employment among patients with ESRD who are receiving dialysis in the U.S. is low and has continued to decrease over time, despite both financial benefits from employment and evidence suggesting that patients who are employed experience improved quality of life and sense of wellbeing.

We used a national ESRD registry to examine trends in employment between 1996 and 2013 among patients starting dialysis in the U.S. and in the six months before ESRD. Our goal was to determine whether difficulties that patients face when trying to work begin even before they develop ESRD.

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Height Linked To Increased Mortality In Hemodialysis Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bryan B. Shapiro
Harold Simmons Center for Kidney Disease Research and Epidemiology and
Division of Nephrology and Hypertension
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute
Harbor–UCLA Medical Center Torrance, California

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The inverse relationship between body mass index (BMI) and mortality rates is well-documented in maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) patients. Virtually everyone has assumed that this relationship reflects the effect of body weight, and especially fat mass, on mortality in these patients. However, height is also a component of the BMI equation (BMI = body weight (kg)/height (m²)) and may be independently associated  with mortality in MHD patients. The results of this study, which examined 117, 644 MHD patients and was controlled for many demographic and laboratory variables, indicate that height, adjusted for body weight, is directly associated with mortality in a manner that is opposite to the weight-mortality relationship. Moreover, we found that the contribution of height to the inverse BMI-mortality relationship in dialysis is essentially as great as the contribution of weight. Continue reading

Dialysis Patients Generally Unprepared For Natural Disasters

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Naoka Murakami MD PhD
Mount Sinai Beth Israel Department of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background of the study? What are the main findings? 

Dr. Murakami: Dialysis patients live in a complex sociomedical situation and are highly dependent on technologies to sustain their lives; such as transportation, electricity and water for the dialysis apparatus. Interruption of this infrastructure by a natural disaster can result in devastating outcomes.

During triage of patients arriving at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Sandy, we observed that many dialysis patients did not know about their medications, their comorbid conditions nor their dialysis prescriptions. Therefore we conducted a cross-sectional follow-up study of 357 hemodialysis patients in five dialysis units in lower Manhattan, New York. Using checklists prepared by the National Kidney Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security, we found that 26.3% subjects missed dialysis sessions and 66.1% received dialysis at non-regular dialysis unit(s). We observed that the distribution of a “Dialysis emergency packet” significantly improved retention of medical records at home. Analysis showed that dialysis-specific preparedness, racial ethnicity (non-African American, Hispanic or Caucasian), reception of dialysis in affiliated units, and older age, were associated with a significant reduction in missed dialyses.

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Serum IL-31 Linked to Itching in Hemodialysis Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview wth:
Mei-Ju Ko, MD, PhD
Department of Dermatology, Taipei City Hospital
Department of Dermatology, National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Ko: In this study, not only did we find that serum levels of interleukin (IL)-31 were significantly higher in hemodialysis patients with pruritus symptoms, but we also demonstrated a positive exposure-response relationship between IL-31 levels and visual analog scale (VAS) scores of pruritus intensity. We also noted an inverse correlation between the severity of pruritus and the dialysis dose assessed by Kt/V.
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End Stage Kidney Disease: Does Peritoneal Dialysis Offer A Survival Advantage?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Victoria A. Kumar, M.D.
Internal Medicine/Nephrology
Division of Nephrology
Department of Internal Medicine
Southern California Permanente Medical Group
Los Angeles, California, USA

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Kumar: There was over a 2 fold increase in patient survival in incident peritoneal dialysis patients in the first year on dialysis compared to propensity matched incident hemodialysis patients.  We excluded any patients who utilized a central dialysis catheter at any point during the first 90 days on hemodialysis in an effort to reduce the mortality bias associated with hemodialysis patients who start with a catheter.  All hemodialysis patients had pre-dialysis care by a nephrologist prior to starting dialysis.

The 2+ fold increase in survival among peritoneal dialysis patients resulted in a 2-3 year cumulative survival advantage for peritoneal dialysis patients, using both intent to treat and as-treated analyses.
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