Background/aims: To compare mortality and cardiovascular risk in elderly dialysis patients with diabetes under two clinical strategies of anemia correction: maintaining hematocrit (Hct) between 34.5 and < 39.0% (high Hct strategy), and between 30.0 and <34.5% (low Hct strategy) using intravenous alpha epoetin.
Methods: Observational data were used to emulate a randomized trial in which diabetic patients who initiated hemodialysis in 2006-2008 were assigned to each anemia correction strategy. Inverse-probability weighting was used to adjust for measured time-dependent confounding.
Results: Comparing high with low hematocrit strategy, the hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) was 1.07 (0.83, 1.38) for all-cause mortality and 1.00 (0.81, 1.24) for a composite mortality and cardiovascular endpoint.
Conclusions: Among a cohort of elderly hemodialysis patients with diabetes, no differences were found between the low and high hematocrit strategies. A lower target hematocrit - per current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines - appears to be as safe as higher targets among this population.
Keywords: Cardiovascular outcomes; Diabetes; ESA; Epoetin; Hemodialysis; Inverse probability weighting; Marginal structural modeling; Mortality.