Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that helps to replace the job performed by the kidneys when they stop working. And while dialysis can be lifesaving, it can also increase your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease.

However, there are steps you can take to prevent heart and blood vessel disease while on dialysis. Talk to your doctor to determine which care plan would work best for you.

Control blood sugar if you have diabetes-Check your blood sugar levels per your instructions from your doctor and follow your prescribed treatment plan of medications, diet and exercise.

Control high blood pressure-Follow your doctor's recommendations for maintaining your blood pressure. The target blood pressure for patients before dialysis treatment is less than 140/90. After dialysis treatment, the blood pressure target is 130/80. If you check your own blood pressure from home, keep a daily record of your readings and show them to your doctor at each office visit.

Reduce high cholesterol levels-High blood cholesterol levels raise your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease. If you have high cholesterol levels, ask your medical team how to lower them. Following a low-fat diet and increasing physical activity can help.  In some cases, it may be necessary to take medication, such as a statin, to lower cholesterol.
Check red blood cell count-Anemia, the result of a low red blood cell count, is fairly common in people with chronic kidney disease. Having anemia can make you feel tired and can lead to a thickening of the muscle on the right side of the heart. Anemia can be treated with a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) and iron.

Take aspirin-Ask your doctor if taking a daily aspirin would help prevent a heart attack. Because aspirin can sometimes cause excess bleeding, ask your doctor about the signs and symptoms you should watch out for and when you should stop taking aspirin.

Reduce high homocysteine levels-Homocysteine is an amino acid your body makes. High levels of the hormone may raise your risk of having heart and blood vessel problems. Getting the right amount of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can help maintain a normal range of homocysteine levels in your blood. Ask your doctor for the name of the vitamin that contains the right amounts of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 for you. Plus, if you smoke, quit. Smoking increases your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease.


National Kidney Foundation. "Take Steps to Keep Your Heart Healthy on Dialysis."