To clarify the mechanisms involved in the stability of blood pressure during ultrafiltration (UF) alone versus regular dialysis, this study systematically examined the importance of changes in serum potassium, osmolality, and plasma norepinephrine during several dialysis maneuvers. Six stable, normotensive chronic dialysis patients were subjected to a uniform 2 to 3% decrease in body weight during the 2 hours of each dialysis maneuver. Supine to upright mean blood pressure (MBP) decreased (90 to 75 mm Hg, P <0.05), and three patients became symptomatic after weight loss during regular dialysis, but orthostatic blood pressure was stable (89 to 86 mm Hg, NS) and the patients were asymptomatic after UF and weight loss. Isokalemic regular dialysis did not afford hemodynamic stability, as orthostatic MBP declined (85 to 56 mm Hg, P <0.02), and four of the patients again were symptomatic after standing. A continuous hypertonic mannitol (25%) infusion during the 2-hour dialysis, however, kept osmolality from decreasing and was associated with a stable orthostatic MBP (89 to 83 mm Hg, NS). A continuous infusion of isotonic mannitol (5%) given in a volume five times that of the hypertonic mannitol failed to prevent orthostatic hypotension (89 to 60 mm Hg, P <0.005). Plasma norepinephrine concentrations were high in these patients and increased only modestly after weight loss. These results implicate constant plasma osmolality as a critical protective factor of blood pressure during UF and further demonstrate that changes in blood pressure may be dissociated from changes in both serum potassium and plasma norepinephrine concentration.
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