Intradialytic Symptoms and Recovery Time in Patients on Thrice-Weekly In-Center Hemodialysis: A Cross-sectional Online Survey

Luis Alvarez, Deborah Brown, Dean Hu, Glenn M. Chertow, Joseph A. Vassalotti, Sarah Prichard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Rationale & Objective: Patients experience various symptoms during hemodialysis. We aimed to assess the frequency and severity of symptoms during hemodialysis and whether intradialytic symptoms are associated with recovery time postdialysis. Study Design: An online questionnaire was sent to 10,000 patients in a National Kidney Foundation database. Setting & Participants: Adult patients receiving in-center hemodialysis 3 times weekly for 3 or more months. Exposure: Online questionnaire. Analytic Approach: Tabulation of frequency and severity of events and recovery time as percent of respondents, construction of a total symptom score, followed by rank correlation analysis of symptom characteristics with total recovery time. Outcomes: Patient-reported intradialytic symptoms and recovery time postdialysis. Results: 359 patients met screening criteria and completed the questionnaire. Mean age was 62.5 ± 13.8 years, 207 (58%) were men, 74 (21%) were black/African American, 132 (37%) had diabetes, 252 (70%) had hypertension, and 102 (28%) had a history of myocardial infarction, heart surgery, or stent placement. 311 (87%) patients had symptoms during dialysis in the previous week, with mean severity of 2.7 (range for each symptom, 1-5). The most common symptoms were fatigue/feeling washed out (62%), cramps (44%), and symptoms of low blood pressure (42%). Median time to recovery was 3 (range, 0-24) hours, and this correlated with the incidence and severity of intradialytic symptoms (P < 0.0001). 40% of patients had time to recovery times of 4 hours or longer. 1 in 3 patients reported having stopped dialysis early for intradialytic symptoms and 6% reported skipping dialysis at least once because of intradialytic symptoms. Limitations: Recall-based self-reported data with a relatively low response rate. Conclusions: A majority of patients receiving in-center hemodialysis experience symptoms such as feeling washed out, fatigue, and cramping; these may be severe and are correlated with longer recovery time following hemodialysis, as well as shortened and skipped hemodialysis sessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalKidney Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • hemodialysis
  • recovery time
  • symptoms


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