Heart failure management in dialysis patients: Many treatment options with no clear evidence

Bethany Roehm, Gaurav Gulati, Daniel E. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) impacts approximately 20% of dialysis patients and is associated with high mortality rates. Key issues discussed in this review of HFrEF management in dialysis include dialysis modality choice, vascular access, dialysate composition, pharmacological therapies, and strategies to reduce sudden cardiac death, including the use of cardiac devices. Peritoneal dialysis and more frequent or longer duration of hemodialysis may be better tolerated due to slower ultrafiltration rates, leading to less intradialytic hypotension and better volume control; dialysate cooling and higher dialysate calcium may also have benefits. While high-quality evidence exists for many drug classes in the non-dialysis population, dialysis patients were excluded from major trials, and only limited data exist for many medications in kidney failure patients. Despite limited evidence, beta blocker and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker use is common in dialysis. Similarly, devices such as implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy that have proven benefits in non-dialysis HFrEF patients have not consistently been beneficial in the limited dialysis studies. The use of leadless pacemakers and subcutaneous ICDs can mitigate future hemodialysis access limitations. Additional research is critical to address knowledge gaps in treating maintenance dialysis patients with HFrEF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-208
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Dialysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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