Kidney dialysis is a procedure used when the kidneys are no longer capable of removing certain materials from the blood. Without this procedure, an individual suffering from kidney disease is at risk of further and potentially serious medical complications. In 2006, 354,754 Americans received kidney dialysis.
People suffering from kidney failure require medical intervention to replicate the natural function of the kidneys that can no longer occur.
The kidneys remove waste, salt and excess fluid from the body. During renal failure, these elements build up, causing swelling and other complications. Dialysis filters these items from the bloodstream.
The kidneys filter out chemicals such as potassium and bicarbonate, which can have a negative effect on the heart and cardiovascular system. Dialysis replaces the filtering done in the kidneys to mitigate these effects.
Without the regular excretion of excess fluid from the body, blood pressure levels become dangerously elevated and increase the potential for stroke. Regular dialysis assists in keeping blood pressure within a normal range.
In some cases, the kidneys never fully recover from renal failure and dialysis is required for the rest of the patient's life. Other times, the need for dialysis is only temporary.