Research lends new perspective to nutrition and dialysis

Patients on dialysis may be able to make more informed nutritional decisions during their treatments, thanks to Illinoisresearch.

The United States is virtually the only country in the world where patients on dialysis are not allowed to eat during treatment. Most dialysis clinics place severe restrictions on eating, believing that eating will reduce dialysis efficiency and produce dangerous drops in blood pressure.

ESKISEHIR, TURKEY – APR 24, 2011: Modern dialysis center with several dialysis units

But in a pilot study, researchers found that eating at the start of dialysis does not impact the efficiency of the treatment, and that it has only a short-term effect on blood pressure. The study also followed the meal with aerobic exercise, which may help prevent the brief blood pressure drop.

The initial data suggest that eating could be encouraged to help offset some effects of dialysis therapy.

Data from the work could change the standard of care in U.S. dialysis clinics regarding the safety and efficacy of meals during dialysis. Nutritional supplementation, either alone or in combination with endurance exercise training, may represent a low-cost, easy-to-administer treatment strategy that could potentially improve the health and quality of life of dialysis patients.