Mortality among dialysis patients follows a seasonal pattern, with higher death rates during winter months, according to a new Austrian study presented at the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association 52nd congress in London.

The retrospective cohort study, by Claudia Friedl, MD, of the Medical University of Graz, Austria, and colleagues, included 2,438 dialysis patients: 902 women and 1,536 men. Patients had a mean age of 63.9 years. During the study, 1,836 patients died. The researchers reported that all-cause mortality was highest in winter (1.60 deaths per 100 patient-months) and lowest in summer (1.06 deaths per 100 patient-months).

The investigators concluded that physicians should possibly pay more attention to preventive measures like seasons vaccination or intensive control of cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure), especially in winter.

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Friedl’s team noted that their study findings are similar to those of a U.S. study. That study, by Len A. Usvyat, PhD, of the Renal Research Institute in New York, and colleagues, included 15,056 dialysis patients from 6 states of varying climates. All-cause mortality was significantly higher in winter compared with other seasons: 14.2 deaths per 100 patient-years in winter compared with 13.1 in spring, 12.3 in autumn, and 11.9 in summer, the authors reported in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2012;7:108-115).