University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers report a 50 percent reduction in the number of deaths among kidney hemodialysis patients who are given a new drug that helps prevent excess phosphorus from accumulating in the bloodstream. "The drug, lanthanum carbonate, is effective. Its well-tolerated, and patients find it reasonably easy to take," said Dr. William Finn, nephrologist and professor of medicine at UNC.
Study findings will be presented Saturday (Nov. 2) at the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting in Philadelphia. More than 350,000 people in the United States receive treatment for kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. Of these, about 60 percent undergo hemodialysis, a process that removes wastes and excess fluid from the bloodstream by passing it through a membrane in an artificial kidney machine.
Although regular hemodialysis treatment helps maintain life, studies show it provides about a tenth of the cleaning function of normal kidneys. Moreover, those on the treatment run an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other medical problems. "One of the things hemodialysis does not do well is remove phosphorus from the blood," Finn said. "About 50 to 60 percent of patients on chronic hemodialysis do not have adequate phosphorus control; they have high phosphorus levels."
Leslie H. Lang | EurekAlert!
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