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Intradialytic hypotension (IDH) is a detrimental complication of maintenance hemodialysis, but how it is defined and reported varies widely in the literature. European Best Practice Guideline and Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative guidelines require symptoms and a mitigating intervention to fulfill the diagnosis, but morbidity and mortality outcomes are largely based on blood pressure alone. Furthermore, little is known about the incidence of asymptomatic hypotension, which may be an important cause of hypoperfusion injury and impaired outcome. Seventy-seven patients were studied over 456 dialysis sessions. Blood pressure was measured at 15-minute intervals throughout the session and compared with post-dialysis symptom questionnaire results using mixed modeling to adjust for repeated measures in the same patient. The frequency of asymptomatic hypotension was estimated by logistic regression using a variety of commonly cited blood pressure metrics that describe IDH. In 113 sessions (25%) where symptoms were recorded on the questionnaire, these appear not to have been reported to dialysis staff. When symptoms were reported (293 sessions [64%]), an intervention invariably followed. Dizziness and cramp were strongly associated with changes in systolic blood pressure (SBP), but not diastolic blood pressure. Nausea occurred more frequently in younger patients but was not associated with falls in blood pressure. Thresholds that maximized the probability of an intervention rather than a session remaining asymptomatic were SBP <100 mmHg or a 20% reduction in SBP from baseline. The probability of SBP falling to <100 mmHg in an asymptomatic session was 0.23. Symptoms are frequently not reported by patients who are hypotensive during hemodialysis, which leads to an underestimation of IDH if symptom-based definitions are used. A revised definition of IDH excluding patient-reported symptoms would be in line with literature reporting morbidity and mortality outcomes and include sessions in which potentially detrimental asymptomatic hypotension occurs.

Original publication




Journal article


Hemodial int

Publication Date





543 - 552


Blood pressure, hemodialysis, intradialytic hypotension, symptoms, Aged, Blood Pressure, Female, Humans, Hypotension, Kidney Failure, Chronic, Male, Middle Aged, Renal Dialysis