Why Does Dialysis Harden Heart Arteries And Veins? What Can CKD-Dialysis Patients Do About It?



A regular viewer emailed the KidneyBuzz.com Team and said, "I have been on Dialysis for two years. I lost two toes in 1995 and have suffered from extensive heart problems. Now I'm having problems with my right leg. While doing some investigation, I found out that Dialysis can harden a patient's arteries and veins. Can you give me a straight answer? Is that true? Can Dialysis literally harden your arteries and veins? If so, what can I do about it? Please, I need a reply asap."

Technically speaking, the formal term for hardening of the arteries and veins is called Vascular Calcification. Basically, when the phosphorus level goes up in Chronic Kidney Disease patients conducting Dialysis, it combines with the calcium in the blood. As the calcium combines with the phosphorus it turns into calcium phosphate, which is essentially chalk, and goes outside a patient's blood system and hardens all the tissues it comes into contact with, such as the heart, other organs, veins, and arteries causing a variety of problems. Due to the stiffening and closing of blood vessels, Vascular Calcification that is left untreated puts patients at a much greater risk of dying. What's more, some Chronic Kidney Disease patients are not able to have a Kidney Transplant because their arteries are so severely hardened. Severe bone pain is also a common side effect of Vascular Calcification. 

Recommended Reading: Other Than Heart Disease: What Serious Diseases Result From Calcification In CKD-Dialysis Patients?

Chronic Kidney Disease patients should always be mindful of signs that highlight high calcium and phosphate levels including: Itchy skin, red eyes, and growing difficulty of Dialysis Treatments due to impaired circulatory conditions.  Those mostly affected by Vascular Calcification tend to be male, suffer from Diabetes, older, conduct Dialysis and/or take Calcium-based Phosphate binders. 

ecommended Reading: How Chronic Kidney Disease And Dialysis Patients Can Better Fight Phosphorus - The "Silent Killer"

The high rate of Vascular Calcification in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community as well as the serious side effects associated with the complication, begs the question, "What can Dialysis patients do to prevent Vascular Calcification and improve their longevity, chances of receiving a Kidney Transplant, and quality of life?" Of course, we here at KidneyBuzz.com are not Healthcare Professionals, but we do have the advantage of hearing from over 1,200,000 annual patients who visit the site regularly, and KidneyBuzz.com was founded by a 17 year successful Dialysis patient. Hence, the following tips may help:

  1. Keep down the amount of phosphate in your diet. Wisconsin Dialysis said, "In patients on Dialysis, we want to keep your phosphorus level below 5.5 mg/dl." You may check with your Renal (Kidney) Dietitian for help as necessary.
  2. More Dialysis can remove more phosphate. Thus, while Dialysis patients know that their treatment sessions can be annoying, painful, scary, and draining, they are also critically important. Try not miss or shorten treatment sessions anymore than what is absolutely necessary.
  3. Take your phosphate binders to control the amount of phosphate in your meals. Discuss with your Dietitian or Pharmacist the best binders for you to take since many of them contain calcium.

ecommended Reading: New Cooking Methods Found to Lower Cause Of Death In Chronic Kidney Disease Patients On Dialysis

Hopefully, this information will assist you by putting the risks associated with Vascular Calcification into the proper context - showing you a way forward and giving you some peace of mind.  How do you manage your heart health? Share your experience with the over 45,000 Facebook Friends at the KidneyBuzz.com Fan Page (click here). Also, visit KidneyBuzz.com daily for the  latest breaking news, information, Daily Impact Meals, Inspirational Quotes, Products and Services which teach those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.

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