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Fatigue, weariness and daytime sleepiness are common in patients with end stage renal disease that require regular dialysis. In fact, heart attacks are a leading cause of death in dialysis patients.

Fatigue, weariness and daytime sleepiness...

Cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke are also more common in dialysis patients than in the general population, even when comparing dialysis patients with patients who don’t have kidney diseases, but similar other conditions that increase cardiovascular risk like e.g. comparing diabetes patients on dialysis with diabetes patient without kidney disease. In fact, heart attacks are a leading cause of death in dialysis patients.

A recent study showed that dialysis patients who experience weariness and fatigue are at higher risk to die from heart attacks than dialysis patients who do not experience these symptoms. This was even true for patients that had no other conditions that are common in patients with end stage kidney disease like malnutrition, depression, and other diseases and patient who generally looked healthy.

Relation between fatigue and heart attack in dialysis patients

Fatigue can be a symptom of many underlying conditions. Many of these are in particular common in patients with end stage kidney disease. It can be a symptom of mental problems like e.g. depression or of physical conditions like e.g. sleep apnea that both require treatment as they can seriously diminish the quality of life of the patient. The study that linked fatigue to a higher risk for heart attack in this patient population shows that it can even influence the patient’s survival.

One reason why this is could be the fact that sleeping problems are especially common in dialysis patients. Patients with end stage kidney disease often suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which the sleeper stops breathing during the sleep for more than 10 seconds at a time several times during the night. Sleep apnea can be caused by an obstruction in the airway due to e.g. polyps in the nose, fat deposits in the neck in obese people, or relaxation of the soft palate when the sleeper is on his/her back. The sleeper who suffers from this form of apnea tends to snore very loudly when (s)he is breathing. This form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea, and it is not known why it is more common in dialysis patient than in the general population.

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