Blood flow and circulation issues are common among Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients. However, a study led by Ohio State University researchers found that poor circulation can be devastating for patients in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community. "Millions of people worldwide who suffer from End-Stage Kidney Disease have to wrestle with a multitude of complicated lifestyle changes once they are on Dialysis, but the additional diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) can be catastrophic," according to the authors of a study published in the journal, Circulation.
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Peripheral Arterial Disease is characterized by cholesterol or plaque building up in the arteries outside the heart – typically in the legs or pelvis – limiting normal blood flow and increasing the risk of foot ulcers, amputation, heart attack or stroke. Lead researcher, Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan said, "We always knew that patients on Dialysis had a greater risk of PAD, but until now, no one has really looked at how the disease affects their long-term survival or quality of life.” The numbers speak for themselves, “Basically, we found that if a patient is on Dialysis, a diagnosis of PAD increases their overall risk of dying by thirty-six percent (36%),” noted the good doctor. Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania found that women under 70-years-old with Chronic Kidney Disease had a fifty-three percent (53%) higher risk of PAD compared to males.
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Many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease, although they may not realize it because the early symptoms are often subtle and attributed to something else including, "Just another side effect of Dialysis." The most common symptoms of poor circulation from PAD are as follows:
- Numbness in your limbs
- Throbbing or stinging pain in the limbs
- Loss of appetite.
- Unexplained digestive issues.
- Cold extremities.
- Tightening in the chest.
- Skin discoloration.
- Dark circles under the eyes.
- Brittle hair and nails.
- Swelling in the feet and hands.
- Varicose (enlarged) veins.
- Regular muscle cramps.
You can help prevent circulatory complications by trying to conduct some kind of gentle exercise each day. This can be a walk, housework, swimming or anything that is not too strenuous. Don't go overboard with exercise, especially if your circulation is poor. If done safely, within a few weeks the improvements can be quite dramatic. Poorcirculation.org also noted, "eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Keep your cholesterol under control by cutting out unnecessary fats. Consider taking some omega 3 fish oils. This can be as a supplement or you can add more oily fish to your diet."
Do not forget to talk with your Healthcare Team promptly before a more serious issue arises. Discuss symptoms of poor circulation with your Nephrologist. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms, they may be the sign of an underlying health condition which could potentially be life-threatening. Your Nephrologist will work to determine the cause of your poor circulation and treat the underlying issue(s).
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