May 22, 2009

Drug Combo Reduces Risk of Dialysis Failure

A new drug combination may keep grafts working better for dialysis patients and boost their chances at a healthier life.

For the first time, a combination of aspirin and the anti-platelet drug dipyridamole have been shown to significantly increase a dialysis patient's risk of dialysis access failure.

According to a study by the Dialysis Access Consortium (DAC), the combination treatment of both drugs decreased the useful life of a graft before it became blocked the first time by 18 percent, and the rate of developing stenosis by 28 percent.

Artery-vein access grafts, called arteriovenous grafts (AV) grafts, fail most often due to the narrowing of blood vessels (stenosis) at the graft site and subsequent clotting, which blocks the flow of blood. A blocked graft cannot be used for dialysis and is a major cause of worsening health in dialysis patients.

"Our trial results show that we now have a drug therapy that significantly prolongs the viability of AV grafts," lead author Bradley S. Dixon, M.D., of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City was quoted as saying. "This is an important step forward as we proceed to develop therapies to improve dialysis patients' quality of life."

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, May 21, 2009