Impact of extracorporeal blood flow rate on blood pressure, pulse rate and cardiac output during haemodialysis

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If blood pressure (BP) falls during haemodialysis (HD) [intradialytic hypotension (IDH)] a common clinical practice is to reduce the extracorporeal blood flow rate (EBFR). Consequently the efficacy of the HD (Kt/V) is reduced. However, only very limited knowledge on the effect of reducing EBFR on BP exists and data are conflicting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect and the potential mechanism(s) involved by investigating the impact of changes in EBFR on BP, pulse rate (PR) and cardiac output (CO) in HD patients with arteriovenous-fistulas (AV-fistulas).


We performed a randomized, crossover trial in 22 haemodynamically stable HD patients with AV-fistula. After a conventional HD session each patient was examined during EBFR of 200, 300 and 400 mL/min in random order. After 15 min when steady state was achieved CO, BP and PR were measured at each EFBR, respectively.


Mean (SD) age was 71 (11) years. Systolic BP was significantly higher at an EBFR of 200 mL/min as compared with 300 mL/min [133 (23) versus 128 (24) mmHg; P < 0.05], but not as compared with 400 mL/min [133 (23) versus 130 (19) mmHg; P = 0.20]. At EBFR of 200, 300 and 400 mL/min diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, PR and CO remained unchanged.


Our study does not show any consistent trend in BP changes by a reduction in EBFR. Reduction in EBFR if BP falls during IDH is thus not supported. However, none of the patients experienced IDH. Further studies are required to evaluate the impact of changes in EBFR on BP during IDH.

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