Background: Sudden and cardiac death (including death from congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and sudden death) are common occurrences in hemodialysis patients. The intermittent nature of hemodialysis may lead to an uneven distribution of sudden and cardiac death throughout the week. The purpose of this study was to assess the septadian rhythm of sudden and cardiac death in hemodialysis patients.
Methods: Data from the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) were obtained to examine the day of death for United States hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients from 1977 through 1997. The days of death were also determined for patients in the Case Mix Adequacy Study of the USRDS.
Results: There was an even distribution of sudden and cardiac deaths for patients on peritoneal dialysis, and hemodialysis patients dying of noncardiac deaths also had an even distribution. For all hemodialysis patients, Monday and Tuesday were the most common days of sudden and cardiac death. For patients in the Case Mix Adequacy Study designated as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday dialysis patients, 20.8% of sudden deaths occurred on Monday compared with the 14.3% expected (P = 0.002). Similarly, 20.2% of cardiac deaths occurred on Monday compared with the 14.3% expected (P = 0.0005). Similar trends were found on Tuesday for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday dialysis patients.
Conclusions: The intermittent nature of hemodialysis may contribute to an increased sudden and cardiac death rate on Monday and Tuesday for patients enrolled in the USRDS.