Artificial Kidney (Hemodialysis)

1 What is an Artificial Kidney (Hemodialysis)?

Healthy kidneys clean blood by removing excess fluid, minerals, and wastes and they also make hormones that keep bones strong and blood healthy. When kidneys fail, harmful wastes build up in the body, blood pressure may rise and body may retain excess fluid and not make enough red blood cells. it may result as 

Hemodialysis is the most common method used to treat advanced and permanent kidney failure. It allows the patient’s blood to flow through a special filter that removes extra fluids and waste products. Most patients have treatments 3 times a week for 3 to 5 or more hours.

Several centers around the country teach patients how to perform hemodialysis treatments at home. A family member or friend who will be the patient’s helper must also take the training, which usually takes at least 4 to 6 weeks. Home dialysis gives patient more flexibility in dialysis schedule because the time for each session and the number of sessions per week may vary, but a regular schedule must be maintained.

One important step before starting hemodialysis is preparing a vascular access, a site on the body from which blood is removed and returned and should be prepared weeks or months before starting dialysis because it will allow easier and more efficient removal and replacement of blood with fewer complications.

The dialysis machine is about the size of a dishwasher and has three main jobs: pump blood and watch flow for safety, clean wastes from the blood and watch blood pressure and the rate of fluid removal from the body. The dialyzer is sometimes called an artificial kidney. Before each session, the patient should be sure that the dialyzer is labeled with patient’s name and check to see that it has been cleaned, disinfected, and tested.

About once a month, the patient’s blood will be tested by using one of two formulas-URR or Kt/V- to see whether the treatments are removing enough wastes. Both tests look at one specific waste product, called blood urea nitrogen (BUN), as an indicator of the overall level of waste products in patient’s system.

A proper diet can help improve dialysis and daily health. Too much salt (sodium chloride) will make the patient thirsty and make them drink more fluid so foods like milk and cheese, dried beans, peas, colas, nuts, and peanut butter are high in phosphorus and should be avoided.

The patient’s dietitian will help determine how much fluid to drink each day because extra fluid can raise blood pressure, make the heart work harder, and increase the stress of dialysis treatments.

To control potassium levels in the blood ( a mineral found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables which affects how steadily heart beats) the patient must avoid foods like oranges, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and dried fruits. Some of the potassium from potatoes and other vegetables can be removed by peeling and soaking them in a large container of water for several hours, then cooking them in fresh water.

The mineral phosphorus can weaken bones and make skin itch if it is consumed too much. A low-protein diet preserves kidney function but most people on dialysis are encouraged to eat as much high-quality protein as they can because protein helps keep muscle and repair tissue. High-quality proteins come from meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.

Some patients on dialysis need to gain weight so they need to find ways to add calories to their diet. Vegetable oils-like olive, canola, and safflower oils-are good sources of calories and do not contribute to problems controlling cholesterol. Hard candy, sugar, honey, jam, and jelly also provide calories and energy.

Vitamins and minerals may be missing from the diet because the patient must avoid so many foods and dialysis also removes some vitamins from the ody. The patient’s doctor may prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement designed specifically for people with kidney failure.

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