Evidence for the prevention and treatment of stroke in dialysis patients.
Herrington W., Haynes R., Staplin N., Emberson J., Baigent C., Landray M.
The risks of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke are particularly high in dialysis patients of any age and outcomes are poor. It is therefore important to identify strategies that safely minimize stroke risk in this population. Observational studies have been unable to clarify the relative importance of traditional stroke risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol in those on dialysis, and are affected by biases that usually make them an inappropriate source of data on which to base therapeutic decisions. Well-conducted randomized trials are not susceptible to such biases and can reliably investigate the causal nature of the association between a potential risk factor and the outcome of interest. However, dialysis patients have been under-represented in the cardiovascular trials which have proven net benefit of commonly used preventative treatments (e.g., antihypertensive treatments, low-dose aspirin, carotid revascularization, and thromboprophylaxis for atrial fibrillation), and there remains uncertainty about safety and efficacy of many of these treatments in this high-risk population. Moreover, the efficacy of renal-specific therapies that might reduce cardiovascular risk, such as modulators of mineral and bone disorder, online hemodiafiltration, and daily (nocturnal) hemodialysis, have not been tested in adequately powered trials. Recent trials have also demonstrated how widespread current practices could be causing stroke. Therefore, it is important that reliable information on the prevention and treatment of stroke (and other cardiovascular disease) in dialysis patients is generated by performing large-scale randomized trials of many current and future treatments.