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Artif Organs. 1995 Jan;19(1):76-80.

The beneficial effect of low initial dose and gradual increase of erythropoietin treatment in hemodialysis patients.

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  • 1St. Margit Hospital, Department of Nephrology, Budapest, Hungary.


It is well known that the effects of human recombinant erythropoietin (rHuEPO) are dose-dependent. However, when higher doses of rHuEPO are used, the frequency of the side effects also increases. The aim of our study was to analyze the hematologic parameters and blood pressure response in hemodialysis patients treated with low initial and gradually increased rHuEPO. Sixteen regular hemodialysis patients were treated with 3 x 20 U/kg/week of rHuEPO subcutaneously during the first month. Every fourth week the dose was increased by 3 x 20 U/kg/week if the hematocrit did not rise by 2%. If the elevation was 2% or more, the dose of the rHuEPO was not changed. Blood count and blood pressure were checked every week. The antihypertensive treatment was also reviewed weekly. The hematocrit increased significantly from the second week, and 11 patients achieved the target level (30%) between Weeks 8 and 24. Two patients reached the 30% hematocrit level between Weeks 2 and 8, and another 2 patients reached the target level between Weeks 25 and 28. There was 1 nonresponder. The average rHuEPO dose needed to achieve the target hematocrit was 56.3 U/kg/week. We did not observe significant changes in the mean arterial or diastolic blood pressure. It was necessary to increase the doses of antihypertensive drugs, namely nifedipine and captopril, to control blood pressure. Encephalopathy occurred in none of the cases. The low initial dose and the gradual increase of rHuEPO treatment were beneficial to the hemodialysis patients. Although the target hematocrit took longer to achieve, high blood pressure and encephalopathy were prevented by close monitoring and administration of suitable antihypertensive treatment.

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