Dialysis machines attempt to artificially do the work of your kidneys. Some of your blood is removed from your body and filtered through the dialysis machine, which removes toxins from the blood before returning it to your body.
Normally, people travel to a dialysis center and spend about three-and-a-half hours hooked up to the dialysis machine three times a week, usually during the day.
Recently, some centers have begun to offer nocturnal dialysis. Instead of coming during the day, patients arrive in the evening and are "dialyzed" for about eight hours while they sleep at the center, usually three times a week.
Another alternative is at-home nocturnal dialysis. At-home dialysis is an option for many people, according to Provenzano, who added that many of his patients who've chosen this option tell him they wish they'd started at-home dialysis sooner.
"The machines are much smaller, and all you have to do is plop a cartridge in. It's much less complicated than it used to be," he said.
The benefits to nighttime dialysis are clear. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nocturnal dialysis improved the heart health of dialysis patients, reduced the need for some blood pressure medications, and improved quality of life.
"Dialysis patients need to know that nocturnal dialysis is one of a number of options that they have for their dialysis," Steer said.
Both Steer and Provenzano said they haven't had any problems getting insurers to cover nocturnal dialysis.
"This is available. It's something patients can do themselves that improves the amount of delivered dialysis, and patients do fantastic on it," Provenzano said.
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