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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 83-87

Assessment and management of nutrition in hemodialysis patients

Department of Nephrology, Institute of Renal Science, Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission20-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance01-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication09-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anil Kumar Bhalla
Institute of Renal Science, Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jrnm.jrnm_3_20

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Malnutrition is prevalent in patients on hemodialysis. About 18%–75% of patients with chronic kidney disease, undergoing maintenance dialysis, show evidence of wasting. The genesis of malnutrition in hemodialysis patients is multifactorial and comprises reduced dietary nutrient intake, metabolic derangements associated with uremia, and the adverse effects of hemodialysis and other concurrent morbid conditions. In spite of much progress done in recent years in recognizing the pathomechanistic link between malnutrition and mortality, consensus regarding the therapeutic strategies to deal with nutrition-related clinical problems is lacking. Protein–energy wasting (PEW) is the most influential risk factor for adverse outcomes and death. Nutritional supplementation (orally or parenterally) is useful in the management of PEW.

Keywords: Hemodialysis, intradialytic parenteral nutrition, malnutrition, protein–energy wasting

How to cite this article:
Bhalla AK, Bhargava V, Meena P. Assessment and management of nutrition in hemodialysis patients. J Renal Nutr Metab 2019;5:83-7

How to cite this URL:
Bhalla AK, Bhargava V, Meena P. Assessment and management of nutrition in hemodialysis patients. J Renal Nutr Metab [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 May 26];5:83-7. Available from: http://www.jrnm.in/text.asp?2019/5/4/83/286278

  Introduction Top

Nutrition is one of the most important perspectives to consider in patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. Nutrition health in hemodialysis patients plays an essential role in decreasing complications and enhancing the quality of life of patients, so providing adequate nutrition should be an integral part of the process of the treatment program in these patients. In 2009, the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism (ISRNM) recommended the term protein–energy wasting (PEW) syndrome to describe the loss of body protein mass and fuel reserves in dialysis patients, and they had also developed objective criteria for the diagnosis of PEW syndrome in dialysis[1] Various terms have been used to describe the syndrome of malnutrition in chronic kidney disease (CKD) such as uremic malnutrition, uremic (renal) cachexia, protein–energy malnutrition, malnutrition–inflammation–atherosclerosis syndrome, or malnutrition–inflammation complex (or cachexia) syndrome. This review article aims to describe the prevalence, causes [Figure 1], and methods of assessment of malnutrition in hemodialysis patients. It also attempts to give an insight into treatment strategies in these patients.
Figure 1: Pathogenesis of protein–energy wasting in dialysis patients

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  Prevalence and Causes of Malnutrition in Hemodialysis Patients Top

Surveys using various measures and scales of nutritional status indicate that approximately 18%–75% of patients undergoing maintenance dialysis therapy have underlying malnutrition.[2]

PEW is often associated with diminished functional capacity related to metabolic stress. Inadequate diet intake either due to anorexia or dietary restrictions prescribed in these patients is the major factor responsible for protein or energy depletion. In hemodialysis patients, increased production of inflammatory cytokines associated with high catabolic state results in oxidative and carbonyl stress in the body, acidemia, endocrine disorders such as resistance to insulin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglucagonemia, hyperparathyroidism contributing to malnutrition. Factors in dialysis patients such as nutrient losses into the dialysate and loss of blood into the hemodialyzer are the essential factors attributable to malnutrition. Furthermore, comorbid conditions such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, infection, and aging also contribute to PEW.[3]

PEW predisposes to infections, increased hospitalizations, poor quality of life, and decreased survival. It also contributes to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and vascular calcification.[4]

  Assessment of Nutrition Top

Assessment of nutritional status requires composite quantitative and qualitative estimation of visceral and somatic (muscle) energy balance and protein stores. A single parameter is unlikely to determine the phenotype of this comorbid state adequately. Therefore, for a comprehensive assessment of nutritional status, several different measurements are required.

The nutritional status assessment should include a combination of clinical, biophysical, and biochemical parameters. Dietary assessment may be done by the 3-day dietary intake recall, assessing adequate intake per day, and further questioning about anorexia, weight loss, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Problems such as difficulty in chewing or swallowing as well as poor dentition must also be considered.[5]

Clinical assessment of dynamic parameters such as weight and body mass index (BMI) is an essential component of a routine examination. Measurement of the circumference of a limb (e.g., mid-arm and calf) and skinfold thickness provides information on the energy stores (fat) of the body.[6] Various sites for skinfold measurement are as follows:

  • Biceps skinfold
  • Triceps skinfold
  • Subscapular skinfold
  • Suprailiac skinfold.

The most frequently used laboratory parameters of nutritional status are serum concentrations of hemoglobin, albumin, prealbumin, and transferrin.[7] Although hypoalbuminemia has been considered as a strong predictor of mortality and morbidity in hemodialysis patients, serum prealbumin seems to have a closer association with nutritional status as it has a shorter half-life than albumin.[8] Low level of serum creatinine concentration is also an indicator of skeletal muscle wasting as it suggests reduced dietary protein intake and low skeletal muscle mass. In the clinically stable patient on hemodialysis, protein nitrogen appearance (PNA) can be used to estimate the intake of protein. PNA is normalized PNA to body weight (e.g., actual, adjusted, or standardized [NHANES II] body weight or body weight derived from the urea distribution space [Vurea/0.58]) and is determined by urea kinetic modeling. A value of PNA <1.2 g/kg/d in a hemodialysis patient is suggestive of poor nutrition status.[9] Low total cholesterol levels, retinol-binding protein, and ferritin are additional biochemical markers of nutritional status.[10]

  Assessment of Lean Body Mass Top

In literature, various methods have been applied for objective measurement of muscle mass or lean body mass such as anthropometrics, bioimpedance, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).[11] Single- and multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis has recently been used in many studies of the nutritional status of dialysis patients. This method relies on the measure of impedance by the human body to an alternating electrical current. Recently developed bioelectrical impedance vector analysis has become one of the favored methods as it gives information regarding body cell mass and hydration status and can distinguish between muscle mass and fat through measuring the vector length and position.[11],[12],[13] DEXA is an indirect method for the estimation of fat mass, fat-free mass, and bone mineral mass.[13] It depends on the radiological density analysis of the hip and the spine. The use of other methods such as magnetic resonance tomography and computed tomography for measuring body mass composition is limited due to their restricted availability, expensiveness, and radiation exposure.

  Tools Used for the Assessment of the Nutritional Status Top

There are multiple tools developed for the assessment of nutritional status. Currently, subjective global assessment (SGA) of nutritional status has been used increasingly. It provides a comprehensive overview of the patient with respect to nutrition. It takes into consideration food intake, functional capacity, potential malabsorption, reasons for reduced food intake, weight loss, and changes in body composition. Classification using SGA is a dynamic process and this classification can change, even in a relatively short period of time. SGA correlates well with other nutritional markers and has a high predictive value for mortality in these patient groups.[14] SGA-Dialysis Malnutrition Score was developed as a modification of the original SGA score incorporating duration of hemodialysis into the assessment, converting the semi-quantitative SGA to a fully quantitative score.[15] Another score, malnutrition–inflammation score (MIS), developed by Kalantar-Zadeh is a combination of anthropometric data, biochemical data, and SGA. It has significant correlations with prospective hospitalization and mortality, as well as with measures of anemia, inflammation, and nutrition in dialysis patients.[16]

  Diagnosis of Protein–energy Wasting Top

Definition and diagnostic criteria of PEW were proposed by the ISRNM.[17] It used four categories for the diagnosis of PEW. First, the biochemical criteria: ISRNM prescribes three parameters such as serum albumin (<3.8 g/100 ml, bromocresol green), serum transthyretin (30 mg/100 ml), or serum cholesterol (<2.59 mmol/l). Second, indicators of body mass are used. BMI < 23 kg/m2, a loss of 5% of weight within 3 months, and an unintentional loss of 10% of nonedematous weight over the past 6 months are considered as indicators of PEW. Third, muscle wasting, that is, reduced muscle mass 5% over 3 months or 10% over 6 months and reduced mid-arm muscle circumference area (reduction >10% in relation to the 50th percentile of reference population). And finally, low protein or energy intakes, which are defined as an unintentional reduction in dietary protein intake less than about 0.80 g/kg body weight/day in maintenance dialysis patients or dietary energy intake less than about 25 kcal/kg body weight, respectively, are associated with PEW. For each component, if a patient has a value greater than the threshold value, they receive one point for that component. If a patient has a value less than the threshold value, they receive zero points for that component. Therefore, the total PEW score ranges from 0 to 4. There are four overall PEW score ratings, and they are normal nutritional status (score 4), slight wasting (score 3), moderate wasting (score 2), and severe wasting (score 0–1). Studies that compare the PEW diagnostic criteria with SGA score, MIS, and various anthropometric and biochemical parameters with regard to diagnostic accuracy are lacking in literature.

  Nutritional Intervention Top

Approach to nutrition management in hemodialysis patients should be reformative in nature and should be appropriate according to the changing metabolic and dietary needs of an individual patient. Dietary counseling remains the mainstay of treatment for malnutrition. Educating and advising patients to increase total energy and protein is an essential part of nutritional advice.

Various oral nutritional supplements have been designed in different formulations (solid food, powders, or liquid) to supplement as energy and protein sources.[18] It is also important to deal with factors such as difficulties in self-feeding, any gastrointestinal problem, depression, infections, diabetes control, and management of comorbidities that could affect food intake. Recommendations for dietary nutrient intake for hemodialysis patients are given in [Table 1].[19]
Table 1: Recommended nutritional parameters in hemodialysis patients

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Treatment of metabolic acidosis results in the improvement of nutritional status by decreasing the rate of protein catabolism. Oral low-dose sodium bicarbonate (2–3 g/d) is recommended to prevent metabolic acidosis.[20]

  Adequate Dialysis Top

Providing adequate dialysis is essential for maintaining optimal nutritional status. Amelioration of nutritional status during the initial 1st year of dialysis therapy initiation has been shown to cause an increase in body fat mass. Epidemiological studies have shown a direct correlation between increased mortality and inadequate dialysis doses.[21] Nutritional status has not been shown to improve by either increasing the dose of dialysis or with the use of high-flux dialysis.[22] Hemodiafiltration has also been claimed to improve nutritional status by decreasing inflammatory mediators, but it failed to demonstrate proven efficacy in improving nutritional status.

  Treatment of Micronutrient Deficiencies Top

Micronutrient deficiencies should be promptly recognized and treated. Water-soluble micronutrients, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B, may be lost during hemodialysis sessions, but benefits of routine supplementation of these micronutrients are not clearly known.[23] Deficiency of L-carnitine has also been related to anemia, intradialytic hypotension, and muscle weakness. The role of L-carnitine supplementation is still controversial.[24]

  Appetite Stimulants Top

Megestrol acetate is an oral synthetic derivate of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. It stimulates appetite by releasing neuropeptide Y in the hypothalamus modulation of calcium channels in the satiety center (ventromedial hypothalamus). Side effects that have been reported so far are headaches, uterine bleeding, weight gain, diarrhea, and hyperglycemia after long-term administration of megestrol.[25] However, because of the lack of adequate evidence, it is not recommended in clinical practice to treat anorexia in malnourished hemodialysis patients. Randomized controlled trials are warranted.

  Androgenic Anabolic Steroids Top

Although androgenic–anabolic steroids (AAS) had shown positive results in patients with burns, cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus infection, data to extrapolate these results in hemodialysis patients are lacking. Nandrolone decanoate and oxandrolone are the two commonly used AASs in clinical practice. They induce messenger RNA expression of skeletal muscle androgen receptor, stimulate net muscle protein synthesis, and inhibit protein catabolic processes. Side effects associated with AAS come from reports among athletes, with complaints of such as hypercoagulation, testicular atrophy and infertility in men, irregular menses, virilization, and hirsutism in women, psychiatric disorders and hepatocellular carcinoma.[26]

  Role of Intradialytic Parenteral Nutrition Top

Intradialytic parenteral nutrition (IDPN) serves as an alternate option for the patients who cannot tolerate oral or enteral route nutritional feeding. These are usually patients suffering from GI tract dysfunction, severe nausea, vomiting, or anorexia. This form of nutrition is administered during regular dialysis sessions. Side effects such as increased risk of infections, fluid overload, metabolic imbalance, and increased financial burden raise concerns for its use when compared to other therapies. Current evidence is still scarce to show any benefit for IDPN over recommended standard treatments.[27] According to the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative, 2000, indications for initiating IDPN are the following:[28]

  • Evidence of protein or energy malnutrition and inadequate dietary protein intake or dietary energy intake
  • Inability to administer or tolerate adequate oral nutrition, including food supplements or tube feeding.

  Conclusion Top

PEW is an important cause of morbidity in CKD patients (predialysis/on dialysis). It should be looked for using various measurements, assessments, and diagnostic tools. Treating PEW results in significant improvement in the quality of life and prolongs survival.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1]

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Prevalence and C...
Assessment of Nu...
Assessment of Le...
Tools Used for t...
Diagnosis of Pro...
Nutritional Inte...
Adequate Dialysis
Treatment of Mic...
Appetite Stimulants
Androgenic Anabo...
Role of Intradia...
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