Background: In a previous study we demonstrated that mild metabolic alkalosis resulting from standard bicarbonate haemodialysis induces hypotension. In this study, we have further investigated the changes in systemic haemodynamics induced by bicarbonate and calcium, using non-invasive procedures.
Methods: In a randomized controlled trial with a single-blind, crossover design, we sequentially changed the dialysate bicarbonate and calcium concentrations (between 26 and 35 mmol/l for bicarbonate and either 1.25 or 1.50 mmol/l for calcium). Twenty-one patients were enrolled for a total of 756 dialysis sessions. Systemic haemodynamics was evaluated using pulse wave analysers. Bioimpedance and BNP were used to compare the fluid status pattern.
Results: The haemodynamic parameters and the pre-dialysis BNP using either a high calcium or bicarbonate concentration were as follows: systolic blood pressure (+5.6 and -4.7 mmHg; P < 0.05 for both), stroke volume (+12.3 and +5.2 ml; P < 0.05 and ns), peripheral resistances (-190 and -171 dyne s cm(-5); P < 0.05 for both), central augmentation index (+1.1% and -2.9%; ns and P < 0.05) and BNP (-5 and -170 ng/l; ns and P < 0.05). The need of staff intervention was similar in all modalities.
Conclusions: Both high bicarbonate and calcium concentrations in the dialysate improve the haemodynamic pattern during dialysis. Bicarbonate reduces arterial stiffness and ameliorates the heart tolerance for volume overload in the interdialytic phase, whereas calcium directly increases stroke volume. The slight hypotensive effect of alkalaemia should motivate a probative reduction of bicarbonate concentration in dialysis fluid for haemodynamic reasons, only in the event of failure of classical tools to prevent intradialytic hypotension.