Background: Gender and body size have been associated with survival in hemodialysis populations. In recent observational studies, overall mortality was similar in men and women and higher in small patients. The effect of dialysis dose in each of these subgroups has not been tested in a clinical trial.
Methods: The HEMO Study was a controlled trial of dialysis dose and membrane flux in 1846 hemodialysis patients followed up for 6.6 years in 15 centers throughout the United States. We examined the effect of dialysis dose on mortality and on selected secondary outcomes in subgroups of patients.
Results: Adjusting for age only, overall mortality was lower in patients with higher body weight (P < 0.001), higher body mass index (P < 0.001), and higher body water content determined by the Watson formula (Vw) (P < 0.001), but was not associated with gender (P= 0.27). The RR of mortality comparing the high dose with the standard dose group was related to gender (P= 0.014). Women randomized to the high dose had a lower mortality rate than women randomized to the standard dose (RR = 0.81, P= 0.02), while men randomized to the high dose had a nonsignificant trend for a higher mortality rate than men randomized to the standard dose (RR = 1.16, P= 0.16). Analysis of both genders combined showed no overall dose effect (R = 0.96, P= 0.52), as reported previously. Vw was greater than 35 L in 84% of men compared with 17% of women. However, the RR of mortality for the high versus standard dose remained lower in women than in men after adjustment for the interaction of dose with Vw or with other size parameters, including weight and body mass index. Conversely, the dose effect was not significantly related to size parameters after controlling for the relationship of the dose comparison with gender.
Conclusion: The data suggest that mortality and morbidity might be reduced by increasing the dialysis dose above the current standard in women but not in men. This effect was not explained by differences between men and women in age, race, or in several indices of body size. Because multiple comparisons were considered in this analysis, the role of gender on the effect of dialysis dose is suggestive and invites further study.