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Clin Nephrol. 2005 Apr;63(4):276-83.

Hypotension during hemodialysis results from an impairment of arteriolar tone and left ventricular function.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Hypotensive episodes are a major complication of hemodialysis. Hypotension during dialysis could be directly related to a reduction in blood volume or to a decrease in cardiovascular activation as a response to decreased cardiac filling. A decreased cardiovascular activation could be due to patient-related or to dialysis-related factors. In order to study the isolated effect of a reduction in filling pressure, lower body negative pressure (LBNP) causes activation of the cardiovascular reactivity with a decrease in cardiac filling, but without the influence of the dialysis procedure that could affect cardiovascular reactivity.


We studied the relationship between relative blood volume (RBV), central venous pressure (CVP), systolic arterial pressure, heart rate, stroke volume index (SI), and total peripheral resistance index (TPRI) during a combined dialysis/ultrafiltration and during LBNP to -40 mmHg in 21 hemodialysis patients with a high incidence of hypotension. Systolic arterial pressure, heart rate, SI and TPRI were measured by Finapres. CVP was measured after cannulation of the jugular vein. During dialysis RBV was measured by a blood volume monitor (BVM). In order to study the conditions in which hypotension occurred after dialysis, we divided the patients into 2 groups: hypotensive (H) and non-hypotensive (NH) during dialysis.


Baseline levels did not show any significant differences. During dialysis systolic arterial pressure declined gradually in the H group from 30 minutes before the onset of hypotension. There was a similar decrease of RBV and increase of heart rate in both groups with a large interindividual variation. At hypotension, H patients showed a significantly smaller increase in TPRI as compared to NH patients. The reduction in SI tended to be greater at hypotension, while CVP decreased to a similar extent in both groups. Moreover, during LBNP, a similar reduction in CVP resulted in a much smaller decrease in SI. Systolic arterial pressure was only slightly lowered due to a much greater increase in TPRI.


We conclude that dialysis-related hypotension in our patient group did not result from an inability to maintain blood volume or from decreased cardiac filling. Hypotension appeared to result from the inability to adequately increase arteriolar tone and a reduction in left ventricular function. Both vascular tone and left ventricular function appeared to be impaired by the dialysis procedure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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