Background: The bicarbonate concentration in dialysis fluids for intermittent haemodialysis usually is between 32 and 35 mmol/l. The severity of chronic metabolic acidosis secondary to end-stage renal failure is very variable, however, so that in some patients pre-dialysis acidosis is overcorrected. This study aimed to analyse haemodynamic tolerances to metabolic alkalosis during intermittent haemodialysis.
Methods: In this randomized controlled trial with a single blind, cross-over design, we used dialysis liquids with two different bicarbonate concentrations, 32 (modality A) and 26 (modality B) mmol/l, and in 26 patients, 468 dialysis sessions, compared blood pressure, heart rate, incidence of hypotension and the frequency of corrections required with saline or hypertonic glucose infusions.
Results: The results of intradialytic haemodynamic monitoring for modalities A and B, respectively, were: lowest systolic blood pressure 120.8+/-20.8 vs 124.3+/-20.6 mmHg (P < 0.01); mean systolic blood pressure 138.5+/-23.8 vs 144.6+/-24.8 mmHg (P < 0.001); and highest heart rate 73.5+/-12.0 vs 75.8 +/- 12.9 (NS); with modality A, patients had more dialysis sessions with hypotensive episodes (5.55 vs 1.7%, P < 0.05) and required more saline or hypertonic glucose infusions (20.9 vs 13.7% of the dialysis sessions, P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Mild metabolic alkalosis resulting from standard bicarbonate haemodialysis (32 mmol/l) may induce symptomatic hypotension. While normalizing chronic metabolic acidosis is desirable, reducing bicarbonate concentrations should be considered in cases of significant alkalaemia or otherwise untreatable haemodynamic instability.