Stroke Drug May Help Dialysis Patients

Clot-dissolving drug used to treat stroke appears to lower catheter complications for dialysis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A drug used to treat blood clots to prevent strokes has been shown to reduce incidences of catherter malfunction and infection in dialysis, according to a new study.

Instead of using the blood-thinner herapin to address catheter complications, researchers have shown a clot-dissolving stroke drug (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) may reduce catheter complications more effectively.

The study from the University of Calgary found that when using the rt-PA drug in dialysis catheters in lieu of heparin after one of three weekly dialysis sessions, the rate of catheter malfunction decreased 15 percent, from 35 percent to 20 percent. Infection rates in the rt-PA group was 4.5 percent compared to a much higher 13 percent for the herapin-treated group.

Catheters in dialysis are used to draw out blood and then return the blood after it has been filtered and cleansed by a dialysis machine.

The study followed 225 long-term dialysis patients. Researchers replaced rt-PA for herapin in randomly selected patients. Most dialysis patients undergo the treatment three times a week, and after each treatment, catheters are stored in a solution of what generally consists of herapin and saline.

Using medication as prevention, "we can prevent these complications from developing in the first place," said the study's lead author, Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

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Review Date: 
January 28, 2011
Last Updated:
January 28, 2011