Background: Elevated calcium and phosphorus levels after therapy with injectable vitamin D for secondary hyperparathyroidism may accelerate vascular disease and hasten death in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Paricalcitol, a new vitamin D analogue, appears to lessen the elevations in serum calcium and phosphorus levels, as compared with calcitriol, the standard form of injectable vitamin D.
Methods: We conducted a historical cohort study to compare the 36-month survival rate among patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis who started to receive treatment with paricalcitol (29,021 patients) or calcitriol (38,378 patients) between 1999 and 2001. Crude and adjusted survival rates were calculated and stratified analyses were performed. A subgroup of 16,483 patients who switched regimens was also evaluated.
Results: The mortality rate among patients receiving paricalcitol was 3417 per 19,031 person-years (0.180 per person-year), as compared with 6805 per 30,471 person-years (0.223 per person-year) among those receiving calcitriol (P<0.001). The difference in survival was significant at 12 months and increased with time (P<0.001). In the adjusted analysis, the mortality rate was 16 percent lower (95 percent confidence interval, 10 to 21 percent) among paricalcitol-treated patients than among calcitriol-treated patients. A significant survival benefit was evident in 28 of 42 strata examined, and in no stratum was calcitriol favored. At 12 months, calcium and phosphorus levels had increased by 6.7 and 11.9 percent, respectively, in the paricalcitol group, as compared with 8.2 and 13.9 percent, respectively, in the calcitriol group (P<0.001). The two-year survival rate among patients who switched from calcitriol to paricalcitol was 73 percent, as compared with 64 percent among those who switched from paricalcitol to calcitriol (P=0.04).
Conclusions: Patients who receive paricalcitol while undergoing long-term hemodialysis appear to have a significant survival advantage over those who receive calcitriol. A prospective, randomized study is critical to confirm these findings.
Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society