For people living with end stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney failure, cardiovascular health is particularly important. If your kidneys fail, they are no longer working to remove excess fluid, waste, and toxins from your body as healthy kidneys normally would. Dialysis treatment is then necessary to remove excess fluid and clean your blood to maintain your health. However, without proper fluid management, excess fluid can build up between your dialysis sessions—which can increase your risk of high blood pressure, put stress on your heart, and lead to serious heart health complications. Home dialysis may offer the option of shorter, more frequent dialysis treatments, which allows for less fluid to build up in your body between treatments. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment schedule to fit your health and lifestyle needs.

Choosing more frequent home dialysis for better health outcomes

Home dialysis options, like home peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis, may be done more frequently for shorter periods with less recovery time. These home dialysis options may help you effectively manage the fluids your body retains between sessions.

Managing fluid can help reduce stress on your heart and lower your risk of health complications—plus, more frequent, shorter treatment sessions can be gentler on your body.

Is high blood pressure common in people with ESRD?

High blood pressure is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease, and uncontrolled high blood pressure can also help contribute to kidney failure. Therefore, many people starting dialysis are already taking medication for high blood pressure when they begin treatment. Even though dialysis, diet, and exercise can help lower blood pressure, medication is often still necessary. If your high blood pressure isn't controlled, your heart has to work harder to pump blood and, over time, your heart may get weaker and not work as well, which could potentially lead to heart failure.

Home dialysis offers benefits beyond better cardio health

Home dialysis offers greater scheduling flexibility, and may allow for shorter, more frequent dialysis sessions than dialysis at the center. Based on your lifestyle and whether you choose home peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis, your doctor could prescribe home dialysis most days or every day, which can help you manage the amount of fluid in your body and reduce your risk of cardiovascular complications.

In addition to the convenience of a treatment that fits in with a busy lifestyle, people who choose to treat at home may also enjoy other benefits of home dialysis, including having fewer food and drink restrictions, taking fewer medications, and achieving better outcomes.

TALK TO A HOME DIALYSIS EXPERT

Home dialysis is one of the best dialysis treatments for ESRD. Find out if it’s the right treatment option for you.

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Looking after your heart health on dialysis

Working with your doctor to help prevent heart disease or keep it from getting worse is important. There are things you can do to look after your cardiovascular health with ESRD, whether you're on in-center or home dialysis.

  1. Complete every dialysis session, as prescribed. You need the full treatment session to remove adequate toxins, waste, and excess fluid from your body and achieve your best results.
  2. Make sure you have the best access for you. Choosing your best access—and caring for your access properly—can help you stay your healthiest. If you currently have a catheter, talk to your doctor about switching to a graft or fistula to reduce your risk of infection to your heart and body.
  3. Manage your fluid intake. Your dietitian will tell you how much fluid you should have daily. The amount may depend on your health and the type of dialysis you’re on.
  4. Make exercise part of your day. Talk to your care team about the types of exercise that are right for you—any physical activity counts! For exercise motivation, call a friend to join you.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Follow your kidney diet and talk to your dietitian about weight control.
  6. Take all medications exactly as directed. Ask your renal pharmacist if you have any questions about taking our medications—and be sure to tell your care team about any changes in your prescriptions from other doctors or any over-the-counter medications.

I’m on dialysis. How do I know if I have heart disease?

Heart disease is often referred to as a “silent” disease because symptoms often don’t appear until late stages, and the condition can go undetected. Working with your doctor to monitor your heart health is especially important when you’re on dialysis and at risk for cardiovascular damage. High blood pressure can put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of heart disease to report immediately:
  • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Pain in your neck, jaw, upper abdomen, or back

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND KIDNEY DISEASE

Your doctor is your best source of information on the risks of high blood pressure and kidneys. He or she can assess your overall health and medications to design a care plan that helps you feel your best.
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