Patients usually require dialysis when the waste products in their body become so high that they start to become sick from them. Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment for those with end stage renal disease. When kidneys fail, dialysis helps to control blood pressure and maintain the proper balance of fluid and various chemicals in the body. Dialysis also helps the body maintain the proper acid-base balance.
Kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessels that filter waste from the blood and eliminate it in urine. But diabetes and other diseases can damage this delicate filtering system.
Hemodialysis is a procedure in which a machine filters harmful waste and excess salt and fluid from your blood. A needle is inserted into your arm through a special access point. Blood is then directed through the needle to a machine called a dialyzer, which filters your blood a few ounces at a time. The filtered blood returns to your body through another needle.
While receiving hemodialysis, patients need heparin, a blood thinner that prevents clots in the hemodialysis machine and tubing.
Most people receive hemodialysis three times a week, about three to five hours at each session. This type of hemodialysis, known as conventional hemodialysis, is usually done in a dialysis center. During each session sedentary activities such as reading, watch TV, or doing crossword puzzles are advised.