Dialysis patients treated with Epoetin α show improved exercise tolerance and physical function: A new analysis of the Canadian Erythropoietin Study Group trial
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The risks/benefits of anemia treatment in dialysis patients have been redefined in the US Epoetin α label. This analysis was carried out to determine if increasing hemoglobin (Hb) levels improve exercise tolerance and physical function in anemic dialysis patients. This is a new analysis of the Canadian Erythropoietin Study Group trial, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in dialysis patients. Subjects were 18 to 75 years old, on hemodialysis for >3 months, and had a baseline Hb <9.0 g/dL. Patients with a history of diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease, or severe/uncontrolled hypertension were excluded. Patients were randomized to receive Epoetin α to a target Hb of 9.5 to 11.0 g/dL (n=40) or a target of 11.5 to 13.0 g/dL (n=38), or receive placebo (n=40). Results from patients in the Epoetin-α-treated arms were combined for this analysis. Hb level, exercise tolerance (Treadmill Stress Test and 6-Minute Walk Test) and patient-reported physical function measures (Physical Summary domain from the Kidney Disease Questionnaire, and 4 domains from the Sickness Impact Profile) were reported at baseline and months 2, 4, and 6. Differences in measures were statistically significant for exercise tolerance (Treadmill Stress, P=0.0001) and patient-reported physical function (Kidney Disease Questionnaire Physical, P=0.0001; Sickness Impact Profile Physical, P=0.0015) across all time points for Epoetin-α-treated patients compared with placebo. Improvements were seen at 2 months and were maintained through months 4 and 6. Dialysis patients receiving Epoetin α showed improved exercise tolerance and physical function. These findings should be considered as physicians weigh the risks and benefits of treatment.