More is not necessarily better, when it comes to dialysis.
Researchers, writing in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology, said a year-long study of nearly 250 kidney patients found more frequent blood dialysis does not significantly improve their health, when compared to traditional three-times-per-week dialysis.
University of Washington scientists, who led the study, also concluded the benefits were not worth the extra time required and the considerable toll on patients.
Kidney failure afflicts more than 2 million people worldwide, many of whom require long-term dialysis and suffer from poor health. Some past studies have suggested more frequent dialysis treatments might improve patients' overall health by reducing excess body fluid, boosting their exercise ability and preserving muscle mass.
To test the idea, Washington researcher Dr. Yoshio Hall and his colleagues tracked 245 patients – half of whom received either frequent dialysis (six times per week) or conventional (three times per week) dialysis for one year.
After 12 months, researchers found virtually no difference in the health of patients who received frequent or conventional dialysis.
"Frequent hemodialysis as currently practiced may improve the lives of some but is not a cost-effective or practical solution to improving the physical health of most patients with end-stage kidney disease," said Hall.