WASHINGTON—Patients on hemodialysis (HD) who live at low elevations have a greater prevalence of heart disease and have higher hospitalization rates than those living at mid or high elevations, according to data presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 2019 Kidney Week meeting.

Patients on HD who live at higher elevations have a higher prevalence of diabetes and more often receive an extra HD treatment.

Of 244,720 HD patients included in a study by Sheetal Chaudhuri, MS, of Fresenius Medical Care in Bad Homburg, Germany, and colleagues, 59% lived at low elevation (less than 1000 feet), 35% at mid elevation (1000 to 4000 feet), and 6% at high elevation (above 4000 feet).

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The proportion of patients with congestive heart failure and ischemic heart disease was 21% and 21%, respectively, for the low-elevation patients, 19% and 19% for the mid-elevation group, and 13% and 12% for the high-elevation group, Dr Chaudhuri’s team reported in a poster presentation.

Hospitalization rates for these patients were 1.9, 1.8, and 1.7, respectively, per patient-year.

The proportions of patients with diabetes were 66%, 69%, and 70%. The proportions of patients receiving an extra HD treatment were 7%, 8%, and 9%, respectively.

The authors noted that barometric pressure, oxygen pressure, and ultraviolet radiation are environmental factors that vary by altitude and could impact patient outcomes. HD patients tend to suffer from chronic conditions and could vary depending on the elevation at which they live.


Chaudhuri S, Reviriego-Mendoza-M, Ash S, et al. Impact of altitude on dialysis patient characteristics and outcomes. Presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2019 meeting held November 5-10 in Washington, DC. Poster SA-1047.