Since the earliest reports of the use of Epoetin alfa in hemodialysis patients, it has been described that Epoetin alfa may exacerbate preexisting hypertension or induce hypertension in End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients not previously hypertensive. We undertook this study to determine if the correction of anemia in ESRD patients with cardiac disease from a hematocrit of 30+/-3% to 42+/-3% with the use of Epoetin alfa would result in increased blood pressure. This study was a substudy of the "Normal hematocrit Study".
Methods: Thirty-one patients were randomized into one of two arms. Patients in Group A had their hematocrit increased with the use of slowly escalating doses of Epoetin alfa to 42+/-3% and patients in Group B were maintained with a hematocrit of 30+/-3% throughout the course of the study. All patients had their blood pressure recorded with a 24 hour ambulatory BP device at study entry and at 28 weeks following randomization when they had achieved their target hematocrit. Pre-dialysis systolic and diastolic BP was also recorded.
Results: The mean hematocrit increased in Group A from 29.1+/-2.4% to 40.8+/-5.2% after 30 weeks. The hematocrit in Group B remained stable at 30+/-3% throughout the course of the study. There was no difference in mean daytime, mean nighttime or 24 hour systolic or diastolic blood pressure between Groups A and B at either baseline or follow-up. Neither was there a difference in mean pre-dialysis systolic or diastolic BP between Groups A or B at baseline or Follow-up. Four patients in Group A and 4 patients in Group B required an increase in their antihypertensive medication during the course of the study.
Conclusion: It is possible to increase hematocrit to normal levels in hemodialysis with the administration of Epoetin alfa. The increase in hematocrit from 30+/-3% to 42+/-3% is not associated with increased blood pressure.