Background: A full correction of anaemia in haemodialysis (HD) patients may lead to an increased risk of vascular access (VA) failure. We studied the relationship between haemoglobin (Hb) level and VA survival.
Methods: Incident patients between January 2000 and December 2002 with <1 month on HD were considered. The relative risk (RR) of access failure was evaluated in four different groups of patients divided according to their Hb level (<10, 10-12, 12-13 and >13 g/dl). Other factors possibly influencing VA survival were also considered: age, gender, diabetes, vascular disease, intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) and treatment with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) or recombinant human erythropoeitin therapy.
Results: We studied 1254 patients (1057 with autologous fistulae, 75 grafts and 122 permanent catheters at admission). Based on Cox analysis, we found the next statistically significant RR of VA failure to be 2.3 times higher with grafts than with arterio-venous fistulae (AVFs) and 1.8 times higher in AVFs with Hb <10 g/dl than in AVFs of the next Hb group. There was no statistically significant difference in the RR of VA failure between patients with Hb 10-12 g/dl and those with Hb 12-13 g/dl or >13 g/dl. Diabetes (RR: 1.41, P = 0.06), age >65 years (RR: 1.32; P = 0.11) and iPTH (RR: 1.56; P = 0.01) were identified as predictive factors for VA failure; ACE inhibitors or ARB (RR: 0.69; P = 0.03) were found to be protective factors.
Conclusions: In the studied population, the correction of Hb level to >12 g/dl was not associated with a higher incidence of VA thrombosis than in patients with Hb between 10 and 12 g/dl. ACE inhibitors or ARBs were found to be protective factors, and diabetes, age >65 years and iPTH >400 pg/ml were negative predictive factors for VA survival.