I am writing this Medical Director Letter to talk about the dialysis options that dialysis patients have to try to improve their health.
First of all, what do I mean when I say improve your health? This can mean to generally feel better. This can mean to be able to go back to work or to more fully participate in whatever activities make you happy. This can mean to avoid feeling bad after dialysis (avoiding that time that it takes to feel yourself again after dialysis that can be as long as 8 hours or more for some patients). This can mean avoiding admissions to the hospital. Finally this can mean living a longer and healthier life.
About 9 out of every 10 patients on dialysis in America have chosen in-center hemodialysis as their type of dialysis. Everyone getting this letter is currently getting this type of dialysis. It turns out that in-center hemodialysis is the type of dialysis that is hardest on your body. I know that 4 hours seems like a long time but it is a major strain for you to have all the toxins removed that fast and the fluid removed that fast. There are lots of other dialysis choices that would likely leave you feeling better and being healthier. We have all possible dialysis choices available for you and are available to tell you more about them. Just ask your doctor and if you want, I can stop by to discuss with you as well.
Nocturnal in-center dialysis: This is dialysis still done 3 days a week in a dialysis unit but it is done overnight. You sleep in the dialysis unit while you get 7-8 hours of dialysis. This slower dialysis usually leaves patients feeling better. It also leaves your days free. To me it is great that it both makes you healthier and gives you more daytime to enjoy yourself. This slower dialysis is also great for patients with heart problems and fluid problems.
Home Hemodialysis: This has become much easier to do in recent years. While we still prefer to have a person at home with you, about 3 out of every 10 patients doing Home Hemodialysis, have no partner and do it all by themselves. Home Hemodialysis can be done for about 3 hours 5 or 6 times a week. Many patients do this in the evening while they watch TV. The reason Home Hemodialysis is healthier is that it is done so frequently. Home Hemodialysis can also be done overnight while you sleep in your bed or reclining chair. This really frees up your days to enjoy your better health. We have a new program called Experience the Difference. Your doctors have worked hard with DaVita to have this for you. You can see what frequent dialysis feels liked for your body by coming for 5 days in a row for gentle dialysis in the dialysis unit. The dialysis will be done using the home dialysis machine so you can see how simple it is. If you are interested in trying out Experience the Difference, let your doctor know.
Peritoneal dialysis: A growing number of patients are choosing this excellent treatment. Most patients prefer to do this while they sleep leaving their days free and others prefer to do it in the day. Most patients do this totally themselves but others get some help from their family or partner. Some of our older or very sick patients have the treatment done by their family completely but that is less common. I am amazed at the success many patients have with Peritoneal Dialysis despite major medical conditions in addition to needing dialysis. It is very gentle and avoids the bad feeling many patients get after in-center hemodialysis. It is also a particularly healthy choice for patients with heart problems and fluid problems.
Your Doctors are available at answer any questions you may have about this.