Background: Satisfactory haemodialysis (HD) vascular access flow (Qa) is necessary for dialysis adequacy. High Qa is postulated to increase cardiac output (CO) and cause high-output cardiac failure. Aim of the present prospective study was to evaluate the relationship between Qa of arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) and CO in order to have a closer insight into this scarcely explored aspect of HD pathophysiology.
Methods: Ninety-six patients bearing an AVF entered the study. All were evaluated a priori for the existence of cardiac failure according to the functional classification of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force. Qa and CO were measured by means of the ultrasound dilution Transonic Hemodialysis Monitor HD02.
Results: The mean Qa of the 65 lower arm AVFs was 0.948+/-0.428 SD l/min, whereas that of the 31 upper arm AVFs was 1.58+/-0.553 l/min. The difference was statistically significant (P<0.001). Ten patients were classified as having high-output cardiac failure; seven of them bore an upper arm AVF. Thus, upper arm AVFs were associated with an increased risk of high-output cardiac failure (P<0.04, chi(2) test). A third-order polynomial regression model best fitted the relationship between Qa and CO. The analysis of the regression equation identified 0.95 and 2.2 l/min as Qa cut-off points. The receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that Qa values >or= 2.0 l/min predicted the occurrence of high-output cardiac failure more accurately than two other Qa values (sensitivity 89%, specificity 100%, curve area 0.99) and three Qa/CO ratio values (cardio-pulmonary recirculation-CPR). The better performance among the latter was that of CPR values >or= 20% (sensitivity 100%, specificity 74.7%, curve area 0.92).
Conclusions: Our prospective study shows that the relationship between Qa of AVFs and CO is complex and a third-order polynomial regression model best fits this relationship. Furthermore, it is the first study to clearly show the high predictive power for high-output cardiac failure occurrence of Qa cut-off values >or= 2.0 l/min.