Hemodialysis-associated hypertension: pathophysiology and therapy

Am J Kidney Dis. 2002 Feb;39(2):227-44. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2002.30542.


The majority of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients are hypertensive. Hypertension in the hemodialysis patient population is multifactorial. Further, hypertension is associated with an increased risk for left ventricular hypertrophy, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular complications, and mortality. Antihypertensive medications alone do not adequately control blood pressure (BP) in hemodialysis patients. There are, however, several therapeutic options available to normalize BP in these patients, often without the need for additional drug therapy (eg, long, slow hemodialysis; short, daily hemodialysis; nocturnal hemodialysis; or, most effectively, dietary salt and fluid restriction in combination with reduction of dialysate sodium concentration). Optimal BP in dialysis patients is not different from recommendations for the general population, even though definite evidence is not yet available. Predialysis systolic and diastolic BPs are of particular importance. Left ventricular mass correlates with predialysis systolic BP. Survival is better in hemodialysis patients with a mean arterial pressure below 99 mm Hg as compared with those with higher BP. Low predialysis systolic BP (<110 mm Hg) and low predialysis diastolic BP (<70 mm Hg) are associated with increased mortality, primarily because of severe congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease. Patients that experience repeated intradialytic hypotensive episodes should also be viewed with caution, and predialytic BP values should be reevaluated. A possible treatment option for these patients may be slow, long hemodialysis; short, daily hemodialysis; or nocturnal hemodialysis. Among the antihypertensive agents currently available, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors appear to have the greatest ability to reduce left ventricular mass. Pressure load can be satisfactorily determined by using the average value of predialysis BP measurements over 1 month. In selected hemodialysis patients, interdialytic ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) may help to determine if the patient is in fact hypertensive. In addition, ABPM provides important information about the change in BP between day and night. Regular home BP monitoring, yearly echocardiography, and treatment of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease are recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Natriuretic Agents / metabolism
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / mortality
  • Renin-Angiotensin System
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Survival Rate
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Natriuretic Agents
  • Sodium, Dietary