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High blood calcium linked with increased risk of premature death in dialysis patients

Elevated blood levels of calcium and phosphorus are linked with an increased risk of premature death in kidney disease patients on dialysis, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). Additional studies are needed to see whether lowering the levels of these blood minerals may improve patients' health.

The Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Quality Incentive Program is designed to adjust payments to US dialysis facilities based on their performance on a variety of different quality measures. The number of measures that have been included in the program since its inception in 2012 have grown, and in 2016, the measures will be further expanded to include a "hypercalcemia" measure, which will penalize dialysis facilities if too many patients have 3-month average blood calcium levels above a certain threshold (10.2 milligrams per deciliter). The change is meant to help address mineral metabolism disorders, which are very common in patients with kidney disease.

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