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Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2005;39(5):399-404.

Hemorheological and hemodynamic changes in predialysis patients after normalization of hemoglobin with epoetin-alpha.

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Department of Medical Sciences, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.



Changes in blood viscosity and total peripheral resistance may contribute to increased blood pressure during partial correction of renal anemia with erythropoietin. An increase in hemoglobin level is followed by decreases in cardiac output and left ventricular mass. We examined how normalization of hemoglobin in predialysis patients affects both hemorheological and hemodynamic variables.


Twelve moderately anemic predialysis patients (hemoglobin 115.9+/-7.8 g/l) received epoetin-alpha with the aim of achieving a normal hemoglobin level (135-160 g/l). Hemorheological variables were measured using rotational viscometry. Cardiac index was determined by means of Doppler echocardiography.


After 48 weeks, the hematocrit level had increased from 37.9%+/-3.0% to 47.0%+/-3.1% (p<0.0001). Blood viscosity increased from 3.84+/-0.33 to 4.59+/-0.4 mPa x s (p<0.001). Blood viscosity standardized to a hematocrit level of 45% and a plasma viscosity of 1.31 mPa x s did not change. Plasma viscosity, erythrocyte aggregation tendency and erythrocyte fluidity remained unchanged. The cardiac index decreased from 2.64+/-0.57 to 2.19+/-0.72 l/min/m(2) (p<0.05). The total peripheral resistance index increased from 3270+/-985 to 4013+/-1046 (dyn x s/cm(5))m(2) (p<0.05). Blood pressure remained constant, but the amount of antihypertensive medication used increased by 30%.


Hemoglobin normalization in predialysis patients raised blood viscosity and total peripheral resistance due to an increase in hematocrit level, without other consistent hemorheological changes. Antihypertensive therapy had to be increased in many patients to maintain an acceptable blood pressure. The cardiac index was reduced, which may have prevented further development of left ventricular hypertrophy.

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