Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of sodium ramping (profiling) in reducing hypotensive episodes and symptoms during haemodialysis.
Design: Prospective study.
Setting: Regional hospital, Hong Kong.
Patients: Thirteen patients who experienced frequent episodes of hypotension and/or symptoms such as cramps, dizziness, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache during haemodialysis in the preceding 4 weeks.
Interventions: Each patient was switched from standard haemodialysis with a constant dialysate sodium concentration of 135 to 140 mmol/L to a ramped sodium haemodialysis for a period of 4 weeks. During this time the dialysate sodium concentration was ramped linearly downwards from 150 mmol/L at the beginning of dialysis to 140 mmol/L at the end of dialysis.
Main outcome measures: Intradialytic hypotensive episodes, intradialytic symptoms, nursing interventions, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and interdialytic weight gain.
Results: A total of 248 haemodialysis sessions undertaken by 13 patients were analysed. Switching from constant sodium haemodialysis to ramped sodium haemodialysis resulted in a significant reduction in the number of intradialytic hypotensive episodes from 5.8 (standard deviation, 6.4) to 2.2 (3.3) [P<0.05], the total number of intradialytic symptoms from 7.1 (3.4) to 0.9 (1.3) [P<0.01], and nursing interventions from 11.3 (6.3) to 1.7 (3.9) [P<0.01]. Post-dialysis systolic and diastolic blood pressures were higher during ramped sodium haemodialysis compared with constant sodium haemodialysis (systolic blood pressure, 139 [standard deviation, 23] vs 133  mm Hg, P<0.001; diastolic blood pressure, 77  vs 74  mm Hg, P<0.01), and there was a trend towards a smaller drop in blood pressure after dialysis. The interdialytic weight gain with sodium ramping haemodialysis was greater compared with constant sodium haemodialysis (3.1 [standard deviation, 1.0] vs 2.7 [1.1] kg, P<0.001).
Conclusion: Sodium ramping during haemodialysis effectively reduces hypotensive episodes and intradialytic symptoms. Post-dialysis blood pressure is better maintained. A side-effect of sodium ramping is a greater interdialytic weight gain.