Intensive Hemodialysis, Blood Pressure, and Antihypertensive Medication Use

George L. Bakris, John M. Burkart, Eric D Weinhandl, Peter A. McCullough, Michael A. Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Hypertension is a cardinal feature of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Hypertensive nephropathy is the primary cause of ESRD for nearly 30% of patients, and the prevalence of hypertension is >85% in new patients with ESRD. In contemporary hemodialysis (HD) patients, mean predialysis systolic blood pressure (SBP) is nearly 150 mm Hg, and about 70%, 50%, and 40% use β-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, respectively. Predialysis SBP generally exhibits a U-shaped association with mortality risk. Interdialytic ambulatory SBP is more strongly associated with risk. Hypertension is multifactorial; key causes include persistent hypervolemia and elevated peripheral resistance. With 3 HD sessions per week, blood pressure (BP) climbs during the interdialytic interval, in step with interdialytic weight gain, particularly among elderly patients and those with higher dry weight. Elevated peripheral resistance can be attributed to inappropriate activation of the sympathetic nervous system due to higher plasma norepinephrine concentrations. Multiple randomized clinical trials show that intensive HD reduces BP and the need for oral medications indicated for hypertension. In the first 2 months of the Frequent Hemodialysis Network trial, the short daily schedule reduced predialysis SBP by 7.7 mm Hg, whereas the nocturnal schedule reduced predialysis SBP by 7.3 mm Hg, both relative to 3 sessions per week. Improvements were sustained after 12 months. Both schedules reduced antihypertensive medication use relative to 3 sessions per week. In FREEDOM (Following Rehabilitation, Economics, and Everyday-Dialysis Outcome Measurements), a prospective cohort study of short daily HD, the mean number of prescribed antihypertensive agents decreased from 1.7 to 1.0 in 1 year, whereas the percentage of patients not prescribed antihypertensive agents increased from 21% to 47%. Nocturnal HD appears to markedly reduce total peripheral resistance and plasma norepinephrine and restore endothelium-dependent vasodilation. In conclusion, intensive HD reduces BP and the need for antihypertensive medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S15-S23
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Antihypertensive medication
  • Frequent Hemodialysis Network
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • daily dialysis
  • end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • fluid overload
  • home dialysis
  • hypertension
  • intensive hemodialysis
  • nocturnal hemodialysis
  • review
  • short daily hemodialysis
  • ultrafiltration


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