Anemia and Kidney Dialysis Patients
A large percentage of chronic kidney failure patients suffer from anemia, but what makes them so susceptible to this problem?
Most people think their kidneys do only one thing – purify the blood. But among other things, the kidneys secrete the important hormone erythropoietin (also known as EPO), which controls red blood cell production (the amount of iron in your diet is also important). The EPO tells your bone marrow to make more red blood cells. As kidney failure progresses (indeed even before you know you are suffering from kidney failure), your kidneys ability to produce erythropoietin is reduced, so your bone marrow receives less signals to spring into action and so less red blood cells are produced. This is anemia.
As the concentration of red blood cells reduces, your blood carries less and less oxygen, and symptoms of anemia start to be obvious when your kidneys have dropped to around 45% of their usual ability. As kidney failure increases, you become more anemic. Telltale signs of anemia are fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling cold all the time, looking pale, problems concentrating, headaches, and sometimes chest pains. Women also have changes in their period, while men may have trouble with erections.
Your heart now has to work harder than normal, because with less red blood cells and thus less oxygen being carried by your blood, you need more blood pumping around to give you a chance of extracting enough oxygen as you go about your daily life. This in turn can lead to heart problems (and a surprisingly large percentage of chronic kidney failure patients have heart problems). One of the four heart chambers enlarges and chronic kidney failure patients suffer often suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy, also known as LVH.
So if you have several of the symptoms of anemia listed above, it is important to see your doctor and have anemia blood tests carried out. Your doctor will probably also recommend that you have some tests for kidney failure carried out as well, just to be on the safe side.
Fortunately anemia can be treated. This usually involves for kidney failure patients injections of EPO and iron supplements. (Iron supplements, because if the iron content of your body is too low, EPO can’t do its job properly – red blood cells have iron as an important constituent, present in haemoglobin as the part of the molecule that carries the oxygen around.)
As your diet can affect the amount of iron in your body, and hence your ability to produce red blood cells, you may also wish to consult your renal dietary consultant – it isn’t simply a case of eating any food that contains iron. Some foods increase your ability to excrete iron, and some combinations of foods are not suitable for kidney dialysis patients.
buy erythropoietin online, As kidney failure patients have a hard enough time as it is, reducing problems due to anemia makes life a little bit more bearable for them. One last word – if you see a charity or hospital asking for help to buy dialysis machines – give generously.