Dialysis patients with type 2 diabetes who take vitamin D supplements are less likely to have complications with vascular access than those who do not take the supplements, a new study shows.
Vascular access is the delivery process for patients receiving hemodialysis. It often involves surgically creating a fistula or graft to connect an artery to a vein to provide a thicker entry for dialysis. In some cases a catheter may be used. There are only few sites on the body where access is done, which means keeping access available is critical for dialysis patients.
However, vascular access for dialysis can be particularly difficult for patients with diabetes, who are already at risk for problems with their blood vessels. Complications near the graft or fistula are not uncommon, which can interfere with dialysis treatment. Thus researchers set out to find a way to lessen the risks of vascular access in this population of patients.
Researchers noted that vitamin D plays a role in problems associated with vascular access. To prove this theory, researchers reviewed data from an electronic health record that spanned several dialysis centers in San Antonio. A total of 256 dialysis patients were treated with erogocalciferol, a vitamin D supplement. Among those patients, 155 had type 2 diabetes.
The data showed that diabetes was not associated with a greater risk for vascular dysfunction, contrary to what previous studies have shown. Researchers say that there may not have been enough diabetic patients in the study to make that correlation. However, they did find improvements in vascular access in patients with diabetes who took the vitamin D supplements.
Dialysis patients already have specific challenges, including being at increased risk for heart problems. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, dialysis products made by Fresenius, the world’s largest provider of dialysis products and services, was labeled in a way that made dosing confusing. The products contain an ingredient that converts to bicarbonate in the blood. Unlike competitor brands, there is more of this ingredient in GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, which can cause an overdose of bicarbonate. Elevated levels of bicarbonate in the blood can lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Fresenius is facing numerous wrongful death lawsuits alleging that the company failed to warn health care professionals and patients of the risks associated with their products.