Background: Hypertension is a recognized complication of partial correction of anemia with recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin) in hemodialysis patients. We used interdialytic ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) monitoring to study the effects of partially corrected anemia versus normal hematocrit (hct) on BP in hemodialysis patients.
Methods: Repeated interdialytic ABP monitoring was performed for up to one year in 28 chronic hemodialysis patients with cardiac disease who were randomized to achieve and maintain normal hct levels (42 +/- 3%, group A) or anemic hct levels (30 +/- 3%, group B) with epoetin. Routine BP measurements obtained at dialysis treatments were also evaluated.
Results: Mean hct levels were 30.7 +/- 0.7% in group A and 30.6 +/- 0.7% in group B at baseline, then 39.3 +/- 1.2% (group A) and 33.5 +/- 0.6% (group B) at four months, and 42.0 +/- 1.1% (group A) and 30.4 +/- 1.0% (group B) at 12 months. Baseline ABP and routine dialysis unit BP levels were not different between the groups. At 2, 4, 8, and 12 months of follow-up, there were no statistically significant differences in any BP parameters between groups or increases in any BP parameters in either group A or group B patients compared with baseline. At 12 months, the mean nighttime diastolic BP (DBP) in group A patients was slightly but significantly lower than the mean daytime DBP (daytime DBP 76.6 +/- 1.9 mm Hg vs. nighttime DBP 72.9 +/- 2.1 mm Hg, P < 0.05). The mean daytime and nighttime BPs were not different from each other at two, four, and eight months in group A or at any time in group B, and in both groups, most patients had little diurnal change in BP.
Conclusion: Correction of hct to normal with epoetin in chronic hemodialysis patients with cardiac disease did not cause increased BP as assessed by interdialytic ABP monitoring or by the measurement of routine predialysis and postdialysis BP. There was little diurnal change in systolic or diastolic BP at baseline or after correction of anemia to normal levels, and although mean nighttime DBP was lower than mean daytime DBP at 12 months in group A, the maintenance of normal hct levels did not affect the abnormal diurnal BP pattern seen at moderately anemic hct levels in most patients.