BACKGROUND - Protein-calorie malnutrition is common in chronic hemodialysis (CHD) patients and correlates with morbidity and mortality in these patients. There are limited trials evaluating the efficacy of oral nutritional supplementation in malnourished CHD patients.
METHODS - Eighty-five CHD patients with evidence of malnutrition were included in this prospective study. Patients were followed for a 3-month baseline period during which they received conventional nutrition counseling. This was followed by an intervention period, during which an oral nutritional supplement specifically formulated for CHD patients was given over a period of 6 months. An important element of this study was that the nutritional supplement was provided during dialysis to ensure compliance. Serial measurements of nutritional parameters including concentrations of serum albumin, prealbumin, transferrin as well as body mass index (BMI) and subjective global assessment (SGA) were obtained during the 9-month period.
RESULTS - The nutritional parameters did not change during the 3-month baseline period. Following administration of oral supplementation during hemodialysis, there were significant increases in concentrations of serum albumin (from 3.33 +/- 0.32 g/dL at baseline, to 3.65 +/- 0.26 g/dL at month 6, P < 0.0001) and serum prealbumin (from 26.1 +/- 8.6 mg/dL at baseline, to 30.7 +/- 7.4 mg/dL at month 6, P = 0.002). Mean SGA score increased 14% by the end of the study (P = 0.023). Although BMI and estimated dry weight increased also, these changes were not statistically significant. Serum transferrin did not change during the study period.
CONCLUSION - Oral nutritional supplementation given during hemodialysis improves nutritional markers in malnourished CHD patients.