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1.  The VITAH Trial Vitamin D supplementation and cardiac autonomic tone in hemodialysis: a blinded, randomized controlled trial 
BMC Nephrology  2014;15:129.
Background
Patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) have a high rate of mortality and specifically an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Impaired cardiac autonomic tone is associated with elevated risk of SCD. Moreover, patients with ESKD are often vitamin D deficient, which we have shown may be linked to autonomic dysfunction in humans. To date, it is not known whether vitamin D supplementation normalizes cardiac autonomic function in the high-risk ESKD population. The VITamin D supplementation and cardiac Autonomic tone in Hemodialysis (VITAH) randomized trial will determine whether intensive vitamin D supplementation therapies improve cardiac autonomic tone to a greater extent than conventional vitamin D supplementation regimens in ESKD patients requiring chronic hemodialysis.
Methods/Design
A total of 60 subjects with ESKD requiring thrice weekly chronic hemodialysis will be enrolled in this 2x2 crossover, blinded, randomized controlled trial. Following a 4-week washout period from any prior vitamin D therapy, subjects are randomized 1:1 to intensive versus standard vitamin D therapy for 6 weeks, followed by a 12-week washout period, and finally the remaining treatment arm for 6 weeks. Intensive vitamin D treatment includes alfacalcidiol (activated vitamin D) 0.25mcg orally with each dialysis session combined with ergocalciferol (nutritional vitamin D) 50 000 IU orally once per week and placebo the remaining two dialysis days for 6 weeks. The standard vitamin D treatment includes alfacalcidiol 0.25mcg orally combined with placebo each dialysis session per week for 6 weeks. Cardiac autonomic tone is measured via 24 h Holter monitor assessments on the first dialysis day of the week every 6 weeks throughout the study period. The primary outcome is change in the low frequency: high frequency heart rate variability (HRV) ratio during the first 12 h of the Holter recording at 6 weeks versus baseline. Secondary outcomes include additional measures of HRV. The safety of intensive versus conventional vitamin D supplementation is also assessed.
Discussion
VITAH will determine whether an intensive vitamin D supplementation regimen will improve cardiac autonomic tone compared to conventional vitamin D supplementation and will assess the safety of these two supplementation regimens in ESKD patients receiving chronic hemodialysis.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01774812
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-15-129
PMCID: PMC4130113  PMID: 25098377
Chronic kidney disease; Vitamin D; Ergocalciferol; Alfacalcidiol; Autonomic nervous system; Cardiovascular risk; Clinical trial
2.  The impact of nocturnal hemodialysis on sexual function 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:67.
Background
Sexual dysfunction is common in patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) and treatment options are limited. Observational studies suggest that nocturnal hemodialysis may improve sexual function. We compared sexual activity and responses to sexual related questions in the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form questionnaire among patients randomized to frequent nocturnal or thrice weekly conventional hemodialysis.
Methods
We performed a secondary analysis of data from an RCT which enrolled 51 patients comparing frequent nocturnal and conventional thrice weekly hemodialysis. Sexual activity and responses to sexual related questions were assessed at baseline and six months using relevant questions from the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form questionnaire.
Results
Overall, there was no difference in sexual activity, or the extent to which people were bothered by the impact of kidney disease on their sex life between the two groups between randomization and 6 months. However, women and patients age < 60 who were randomized to frequent nocturnal hemodialysis were less bothered by the impact of kidney disease on their sex life at 6 months, compared with patients allocated to conventional hemodialysis (p = 0.005 and p = 0.024 respectively).
Conclusions
Our results suggest that frequent nocturnal hemodialysis is not associated with an improvement in sexual activity in all patients but might have an effect on the burden of kidney disease on sex life in women and patients less than 60 years of age. The validity of these subgroup findings require confirmation in future RCTs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-67
PMCID: PMC3457870  PMID: 22834992
Nocturnal hemodialysis; Sex; Sexual function; Frequent hemodialysis
3.  Evaluation of an electronic warfarin nomogram for anticoagulation of hemodialysis patients 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:46.
Background
Warfarin nomograms to guide dosing have been shown to improve control of the international normalized ratio (INR) in the general outpatient setting. However, the effectiveness of these nomograms in hemodialysis patients is unknown. We evaluated the effectiveness of anticoagulation using an electronic warfarin nomogram administered by nurses in outpatient hemodialysis patients, compared to physician directed therapy.
Methods
Hemodialysis patients at any of the six outpatient clinics in Calgary, Alberta, treated with warfarin anticoagulation were included. Two five-month time periods were compared: prior to and post implementation of the nomogram. The primary endpoint was adequacy of anticoagulation (proportion of INR measurements within range ± 0.5 units).
Results
Overall, 67 patients were included in the pre- and 55 in the post-period (with 40 patients in both periods). Using generalized linear mixed models, the adequacy of INR control was similar in both periods for all range INR levels: in detail, range INR 1.5 to 2.5 (pre 93.6% (95% CI: 88.6% - 96.5%); post 95.6% (95% CI: 89.4% - 98.3%); p = 0.95); INR 2.0 to 3.0 (pre 82.2% (95% CI: 77.9% - 85.8%); post 77.4% (95% CI: 72.0% - 82.0%); p = 0.20); and, INR 2.5 to 3.5 (pre 84.3% (95% CI: 59.4% - 95.1%); post 66.8% (95% CI: 39.9% - 86.0%); p = 0.29). The mean number of INR measurements per patient decreased significantly between the pre- (30.5, 95% CI: 27.0 - 34.0) and post- (22.3, 95% CI: 18.4 - 26.1) (p = 0.003) period. There were 3 bleeding events in each of the periods.
Conclusions
An electronic warfarin anticoagulation nomogram administered by nurses achieved INR control similar to that of physician directed therapy among hemodialysis patients in an outpatient setting, with a significant reduction in frequency of testing. Future controlled trials are required to confirm the efficacy of this nomogram.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-12-46
PMCID: PMC3189863  PMID: 21943221
Anticoagulation; Hemodialysis; Warfarin nomogram
4.  Overview of the Canadian pediatric end-stage renal disease database 
BMC Nephrology  2010;11:21.
Background
Performing clinical research among pediatric end-stage renal disease patients is challenging. Barriers to successful initiation and completion of clinical research projects include small sample sizes and resultant limited statistical power and lack of longitudinal follow-up for hard clinical end-points in most single center studies.
Description
Existing longitudinal organ failure disease registry and administrative health datasets available within a universal access health care system can be used to study outcomes of end-stage renal disease among pediatric patients in Canada. To construct the Canadian Pediatric End-Stage Renal Disease database, registry data were linked to administrative health data through deterministic linkage techniques creating a research database which consists of socio-demographic variables, clinical variables, all-cause hospitalizations, and relevant outcomes (death and renal allograft loss) for this patient population. The research database also allows study of major cardiovascular events using previously validated administrative data definitions.
Conclusion
Organ failure registry linked to health administrative data can be a powerful tool to perform longitudinal studies in pediatric end-stage renal disease patients. The rich clinical and demographic information found in this database will facilitate study of important medical and non-medical risk factors for death, graft loss and cardiovascular disease among pediatric end-stage renal disease patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-11-21
PMCID: PMC2940877  PMID: 20796306
5.  Association between routine and standardized blood pressure measurements and left ventricular hypertrophy among patients on hemodialysis 
BMC Nephrology  2010;11:13.
Background
Left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy is common among patients on hemodialysis. While a relationship between blood pressure (BP) and LV hypertrophy has been established, it is unclear which BP measurement method is the strongest correlate of LV hypertrophy. We sought to determine agreement between various blood pressure measurement methods, as well as identify which method was the strongest correlate of LV hypertrophy among patients on hemodialysis.
Methods
This was a post-hoc analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial. We evaluated the agreement between seven BP measurement methods: standardized measurement at baseline; single pre- and post-dialysis, as well as mean intra-dialytic measurement at baseline; and cumulative pre-, intra- and post-dialysis readings (an average of 12 monthly readings based on a single day per month). Agreement was assessed using Lin's concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) and the Bland Altman method. Association between BP measurement method and LV hypertrophy on baseline cardiac MRI was determined using receiver operating characteristic curves and area under the curve (AUC).
Results
Agreement between BP measurement methods in the 39 patients on hemodialysis varied considerably, from a CCC of 0.35 to 0.94, with overlapping 95% confidence intervals. Pre-dialysis measurements were the weakest predictors of LV hypertrophy while standardized, post- and inter-dialytic measurements had similar and strong (AUC 0.79 to 0.80) predictive power for LV hypertrophy.
Conclusions
A single standardized BP has strong predictive power for LV hypertrophy and performs just as well as more resource intensive cumulative measurements, whereas pre-dialysis blood pressure measurements have the weakest predictive power for LV hypertrophy. Current guidelines, which recommend using pre-dialysis measurements, should be revisited to confirm these results.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-11-13
PMCID: PMC2901323  PMID: 20576127
6.  Overview of the Alberta Kidney Disease Network 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:30.
Background
The Alberta Kidney Disease Network is a collaborative nephrology research organization based on a central repository of laboratory and administrative data from the Canadian province of Alberta.
Description
The laboratory data within the Alberta Kidney Disease Network can be used to define patient populations, such as individuals with chronic kidney disease (using serum creatinine measurements to estimate kidney function) or anemia (using hemoglobin measurements). The administrative data within the Alberta Kidney Disease Network can also be used to define cohorts with common medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Linkage of data sources permits assessment of socio-demographic information, clinical variables including comorbidity, as well as ascertainment of relevant outcomes such as health service encounters and events, the occurrence of new specified clinical outcomes and mortality.
Conclusion
The unique ability to combine laboratory and administrative data for a large geographically defined population provides a rich data source not only for research purposes but for policy development and to guide the delivery of health care. This research model based on computerized laboratory data could serve as a prototype for the study of other chronic conditions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-10-30
PMCID: PMC2770500  PMID: 19840369
7.  Prevention of catheter lumen occlusion with rT-PA versus heparin (Pre-CLOT): study protocol of a randomized trial [ISRCTN35253449] 
BMC Nephrology  2006;7:8.
Background
Many patients with end-stage renal disease use a central venous catheter for hemodialysis access. A large majority of these catheters malfunction within one year of insertion, with up to two-thirds due to thrombosis. The optimal solution for locking the catheter between hemodialysis sessions, to decrease the risk of thrombosis and catheter malfunction, is unknown. The Prevention of Catheter Lumen Occlusion with rt-PA versus Heparin (PreCLOT) study will determine if use of weekly rt-PA, compared to regular heparin, as a catheter locking solution, will decrease the risk of catheter malfunction.
Methods/Design
The study population will consist of patients requiring chronic hemodialysis thrice weekly who are dialyzed with a newly inserted permanent dual-lumen central venous catheter. Patients randomized to the treatment arm will receive rt-PA 1 mg per lumen once per week, with heparin 5,000 units per ml as a catheter locking solution for the remaining two sessions. Patients randomized to the control arm will receive heparin 5,000 units per ml as a catheter locking solution after each dialysis session. The study treatment period will be six months, with 340 patients to be recruited from 14 sites across Canada. The primary outcome will be catheter malfunction, based on mean blood flow parameters while on hemodialysis, with a secondary outcome of catheter-related bacteremia. A cost-effectiveness analysis will be undertaken to assess the cost of maintaining a catheter using rt-PA as a locking solution, compared to the use of heparin.
Discussion
Results from this study will determine if use of weekly rt-PA, compared to heparin, will decrease catheter malfunction, as well as assess the cost-effectiveness of these locking solutions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-7-8
PMCID: PMC1459124  PMID: 16608513

Results 1-7 (7)