Periprocedural Risk of Stroke Is Elevated in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease on Hemodialysis

Cerebrovasc Dis Extra. 2015 Oct 7;5(3):91-4. doi: 10.1159/000440732. eCollection 2015 Sep-Dec.


Objective: To describe the most common clinical factors and stroke etiologies in a case series of patients with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis (ESRD/HD) with transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ischemic stroke (IS).

Background: Prior studies have shown that patients on HD are at an elevated risk of stroke, but these studies have focused on the overall stroke risk. This case series sought to determine the percentage of acute ischemic events that occur during or immediately after HD.

Methods: ICD-9 codes were used to identify IS and TIA patients with ESRD/HD admitted to the stroke service from August 22, 2011, to June 21, 2014. Charts were reviewed to determine the age, sex, and race/ethnicity of the cohort. TIA/IS diagnosis was confirmed by a vascular neurologist. Clinical factors were assessed, including: onset during or shortly after HD, defined as occurring within 12 h of HD; the presence of a lesion on diffusion-weighted MRI; hypotension, hyponatremia, or hypoglycemia at symptom onset; the stroke etiology; the presence of focal neurologic deficits; whether the patient was in the window period for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IVtPA) upon presentation, and whether the patient received IVtPA.

Results: We identified 34 ESRD/HD patients with a diagnosis of TIA/stroke in the specified time period. A majority of patients (70.6%) were African American. Patient age ranged from 32 to 84 years, with a median age of 67 years. Twenty-seven patients (79.4%) had confirmed ischemic infarcts on diffusion-weighted MRI. Seven patients (20.6%) were diagnosed with TIA. In 13 patients (38.2%), symptom onset occurred during or shortly after HD. Of these 13 patients, 8 (61.5%) had symptom onset during HD. Three patients (8.8%) had documented hypotension near the time of symptom onset, and 2 (5.9%) were hyponatremic on presentation to the emergency department. The distribution of stroke etiologies was as follows: 4 (11.8%) watershed distribution, 1 (2.9%) large artery atherosclerosis, 2 (20.6%) small vessel disease, 10 (29.4%) cardioembolic, and 9 (26.5%) cryptogenic. In 28 patients (82.4%), focal neurologic deficits were observed on presentation. Nine patients (26.5%) arrived within the window period for IVtPA, and 4 (11.8%) were eligible and received IVtPA.

Conclusions: Of all patients with ESRD on HD admitted to the stroke service over the study period, over one third (38.3%) had the onset of their ischemic event during or shortly after HD, and nearly one quarter (23.5%) had the onset during HD. While clinicians may be tempted to attribute neurologic changes after HD to metabolic etiologies, they should also be aware that HD represents a period of elevated risk for acute ischemia.

Keywords: Hemodialysis; Ischemic stroke; Renal disease.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / drug therapy
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / ethnology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / ethnology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / drug therapy
  • Stroke / ethnology
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator