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Dealing with dialysis

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Madison (WKOW) -- New research finds that overnight dialysis may dramatically cut the risk for early death in patients with kidney failure.

  ABC's Doctor Timothy Johnson has the details in this Medical Minute.

  Around 300,000 people in the United States are dependent on kidney dialysis to remove toxins from their blood.

  Typically, patients have to go to a clinic several times a week for 4-hour periods while their blood is cleaned.

  But new research from Turkey suggests that overnight dialysis -- lasting eight hours, three times per week -- may provide greater health benefits.

  Doctors switched 224 patients from regular to overnight dialysis for a 1 year period.

  Compared to a similar group of patients who remained on conventional dialysis, the overnight group reduced their odds of premature death by 78 percent.

  They also improved their appetites, reduced their use of blood pressure medications, and enjoyed better mental functioning.

  Many were able to return to work.

  Researchers say that seniors might not see as much benefit, and older patients were also more reluctant to start sleeping at the clinic.

  However, advances in home dialysis units mean more patients will be able to switch to the overnight schedule, without ever leaving their beds.

  Overnight patients experienced marked improvements in blood pressure control, which translated into a two-thirds drop in the use of blood pressure medications.

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