For most in-center patients, hemodialysis means three treatments per week, each four hours in duration. The weekly total of 12 hours represents a small fraction (less than 10%) of the round-the-clock work normally performed by healthy kidneys to continuously clean the blood. Removing the toxins and excess fluid that accumulate in-between treatments requires maximizing every minute of your treatment time.
It is not uncommon that patients may wish to come off dialysis early for a variety of reasons—fatigue, muscle cramping, even boredom, to name a few. While they may not feel any immediate symptoms, shortening treatment time can have a negative long-term impact on overall health. Coming off early once can easily become a recurring pattern of behavior.
Finishing dialysis even five minutes earlier than prescribed would result in 13 hours of missed dialysis time over the course of the year, the equivalent of more than three skipped treatments!
As a result, wastes inevitably begin to accumulate leading to patients feeling unwell, with reduced energy, poor appetite, chronic nausea, shortness of breath, and worsening blood pressure control.
Furthermore, a reduction in treatment time is known to be associated with increased risk of emergency department visits and hospital admissions, while ultimately reducing long-term survival.
If you are having difficulty completing your full treatment, be sure to discuss it with your care team. It is important to figure out why, then find solutions that could help you get through the entire treatment as prescribed.
Every minute counts, so don’t cut yourself short. Staying well-dialyzed will keep you healthy and energetic, so that you are better able to enjoy those activities and life pursuits that matter most to you!