Many patients with kidney diseases have to undergo dialysis regularly. Often they develop complications related to other organs of the body as well. The relation between dialysis and deterioration of the condition of the heart is well documented. Now researchers are claiming to have found a simple exercise that can have a massive impact on the heart health of dialysis patients.
Ride A Bicycle Daily And Keep Your Heart Healthy While On Dialysis
A research study led by the University of Leicester is claiming that cycling at moderate intensity for 30 minutes during dialysis sessions improves cardiovascular health.
Relation between dialysis and heart problems
The kidneys remove waste materials from our bodies. When our kidneys cannot perform properly, patients have to undergo hemodialysis to remove toxins from the blood. Typically a person with moderate to severe levels of kidney dysfunction needs to have dialysis three times a week for four to five hours at a time. This reduces the amount of time dialysis patients have during the day to remain active and exercise. Without exercise heart health suffers anyways. But dialysis also has a more direct relationship with cardiovascular diseases.
Dialysis can cause scarring of the heart muscles. This builds up gradually over time and eventually the heart malfunctions. In fact, in the decade between 2009 and 2018 nearly one-fourth of the deaths among renal failure patients (kidney patients on dialysis) in the UK were due to cardiac issues.
So for the last few years, there has been urgency among doctors and biomedical professionals to find a sustainable solution to encourage good heart health for dialysis patients.
How will cycling help patients on dialysis
The biggest heart health hurdle for dialysis patients is that they have not much time in a week to remain physically active. It is also not possible for them to do high-intensity physical activities. So researchers were looking for a simple moderate-intensity exercise that could be done during the dialysis process itself. This would save time for the patients time, keep them active and keep their hearts healthy while machines purified their blood.
The researchers at the University of Leicester came up with a unique apparatus to make this possible. They designed a unique cycling apparatus that could be used by patients while the dialysis process was going on.
In the study, dialysis patients were asked to use the specially crafted cycling apparatus at moderate intensity for 30 minutes during each dialysis session. After six months the heart health of these patients was studied and compared to other average dialysis patients who remained inactive during the dialysis process.
- The patients who used the cycle showed a healthier heart by many different medical parameters.
- Cycling regularly helped the heart stay closer to its natural size. Scarring as a result of dialysis was reduced significantly.
- Even the blood vessels of the heart were found to be in better condition. Stiffness of the major aortas and veins was reduced.
But this simple act of cycling did not just keep the patient’s heart structurally healthy. Other parameters of physical health like cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight were also kept within optimum ranges.
Patients with renal diseases often suffer from problems like high LDL (bad cholesterol), hypertension, and obesity because dialysis takes away their time to exercise and puts immense pressure on the body.
Impact on the mental health of dialysis patients
Dialysis is usually a long and difficult journey that takes a toll on the mental health of patients. Some regular exercise, like using specially designed dialysis cycles can release endorphins and make patients feel much better about themselves.
Some researchers are hopeful that popularizing the dialysis exercise cycles will contribute to a holistic improvement in the life of dialysis patients.