Background: Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are at high risk of cardiovascular disease and elevated serum homocysteine levels. Although folic acid supplementation has been documented to reduce serum homocysteine levels in ESRD patients, most trials of folic acid therapy for reducing cardiovascular diseases in ESRD patients have failed, mainly because of limited patient numbers.
Methods: We used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) to conduct a matched-pair retrospective cohort study to clarify whether folic acid supplementation benefits ESRD patient survival. Patients were divided into a folic acid supplementation group and a control group. All-cause and cardiovascular-related mortality rates between groups were compared.
Results: In total, 55,636 stable incident hemodialysis patients were identified from the database. Using a propensity score-matched method and intention-to-treat analysis, the survival rate of 17,000 patients with folic acid supplementation was compared with a 1:1 matched control group. The baseline demographic data and comorbid disease incidence between the 2 groups were comparable. During the study period, the mortality rate in the matched pair cohort was 35.5% (n = 6,030) over a mean follow-up period of 3.0 years, corresponding to a mortality rate of 12.8/100 patient-years. The all-cause mortality rates were 12.3 and 13.4/100 patient-years in the folic acid group and control group, respectively (p = 0.005).
Conclusions: In adult hemodialysis patients, folic acid supplementation improves cardiovascular and all-cause mortality rates.