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Will extra protein and exercise help dialysis patients? U of I profs get $2.1 million to find out
Date:9/1/2010

URBANA - University of Illinois scientists will learn whether protein supplements and cycling during treatments can help dialysis patients fight cardiovascular disease and retain physical function, thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Patients with kidney failure face many health problems. They are at high risk for the more common forms of heart disease, and they also develop a peculiar condition called vascular calcification that makes their arteries stiff," said Ken Wilund, a faculty member in the U of I's Department of Kinesiology and Community Health and Division of Nutritional Sciences, and the study's principal investigator.

Vascular calcification interferes with constriction and dilation of the arteries, which can affect patients blood pressure and have other negative consequences, he said.

Many dialysis patients are also anemic; suffer from a loss in muscle tissue and declines in physical function; and have weak bones due to their abnormal mineral metabolism.

And, when they are being dialyzed, patients lose amino acids across the dialysis membrane. Adding protein to patients diets has long been recommended, but no long-term studies have actually administered protein supplements and reported on their effectiveness, he said.

"Chronic inflammation, loss of amino acids during dialysis, and the often sedentary lifestyle of dialysis patients combine to cause them to lose muscle. In the first year of dialysis, patients with diabetes typically lose 5-1/2 pounds of muscle, and persons who don't have diabetes can expect to lose 2-1/2 pounds of lean tissue.

"They're in a catabolic state--their muscle and skeletal tissue are breaking down," he noted.

Receiving dialysis for three to four hours a day three days a week takes an emotional and financial toll on patients too. "Many of those affected are hurting economically. They feel horrible, may have to travel some
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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