Warm Weather a Danger to Dialysis Patients

Boston, MA - Adherence to scheduled dialysis sessions is very important to the overall health of kidney failure patients, so better understanding of the barriers to dialysis attendance is valuable information to improve patient outcomes.  According to research presented at the National Kidney Foundation 2016 Spring Clinical Meetings, high temperatures and heavy rains can cause kidney failure patients to miss in-center dialysis appointments.

Similar patterns of dialysis non-adherence have been observed in cold weather extremes, but this is the first time that moderately high temperatures have been identified as a barrier to an adequate dialysis regimen.

“It was very interesting that rates of hemodialysis non-adherence are notably increased above moderately high temperatures greater than 28oC (82.4oF), which are experienced in many geographies during the summer months,” said John Larkin, Director of Publications and Research at Fresenius Medical Care North America.

Kidney failure patients usually need dialysis at least three times a week to maintain health. Missing dialysis appointments has been shown to increase the risk of mortality and hospitalization. Even minor non-adherence to a dialysis regimen has been linked to poor health outcomes.

Larkin and his team analyzed data from 158,994 in-center hemodialysis patients treated at Fresenius Medical Care North America clinics from June to July of 2014. They discovered that the rate of non-adherence to hemodialysis treatments (expressed as percent of total treatments) was observed to increase most notably at temperatures above 28oC (82.4oF) and precipitation levels above 200 mm per 24 hours (8 inches per 24 hours).

“The importance of the findings of our study is that geographical location matters when considering the causes of patient non-adherence to hemodialysis,” Larkin said. “In this case, we have demonstrated that higher temperatures and very high levels of precipitation in differing geographies are associated to increasing rates of patient non-adherence to hemodialysis during the summer.”

While most dialysis centers have emergency plans for extreme weather, this data supports the need for dialysis centers and social workers to evaluate patients based on their susceptibility to moderate weather fluctuations and that weather patterns in differing geographical locations should be taken into account in efforts to reduce patient non-adherence.

“That we’re seeing non-adherence rise when the temperature hits 85oF is really an eye opener,” Larkin said. “This shows there is a barrier and we need to find out what it is, if that is transit related or something else we can modify to reduce non-adherence.”

The NKF 2016 Spring Clinical Meetings are being held April 27 to May 1, in Boston, MA. For additional program information, visit www.NKFClinicalMeetings.org.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.