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Study Warns of Risks for Early Dialysis
Date:11/8/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Putting people on dialysis early, while their kidneys still have adequate function, may increase the chances that they'll die in the year after the procedure is started, a new study suggests.

Dialysis, which mechanically filters the blood, helps people with advanced kidney disease live longer, control their illness and improve their quality of life, the researchers say.

"The question this research addresses is what is going on with regard to patients being put on dialysis at higher and higher levels of kidney function," said the lead researcher, Dr. Steven J. Rosansky, senior research fellow at the Dorn Research Institute of the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, S.C., and an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina.

The assumption is that people are put on dialysis because they have no kidney function, but that's not the case, Rosansky said. Though dialysis used to be used for people with 1 or 2 percent of their kidney function, he said, today people with more than 15 percent kidney function are receiving dialysis, and that number is increasing.

But the question remains, he said, as to the optimum time for putting someone on dialysis: "Is it beneficial at higher levels of kidney function, over 5 percent, say?"

Apparently not, according to the study, published online Nov. 8 in Archives of Internal Medicine.

"We found that there is a remarkably higher risk of death in healthy people that are being put on dialysis at higher levels of kidney function," Rosansky said.

For the study, Rosansky's team collected data on 81,176 people who started dialysis between 1996 and 2006. None of the participants had diabetes or any other medical condition except high blood pressure.

The researchers found that about 9 percent of the participants died during the first year of treatment, a
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