Those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are particularly vulnerable and often experience a heart attack while undergoing kidney disease treatments such as dialysis.
During the study, Dr George Coritsidis, Elmhurst/Queens Hospital Centre/Mount Sinai School of Medicine, reviewed the medical charts of 131 ESRD patients who had a heart attack while they were on dialysis.
They looked to see if the timing of dialysis had any effect on patients' heart health following their heart attack. About half of the patients received dialysis within the first 24 hours of their heart attack.
The results showed no link between the timing of dialysis treatments and cardiac symptoms, such as chest pains or emergency room admissions.
Though a similar number of patients in each of the three groups experienced cardiac symptoms, the researchers have identified several predictors that might indicate which dialysis patients have a particularly high risk.
These include the seriousness of the patient's condition, prior heart disease, high pre-dialysis potassium blood levels, and a large drop in potassium blood levels after dialysis.
"In conclusion, our study does not indicate that timing of dialysis poses a risk. What may be of greater importance is the potassium status, its treatment, and the severity of the patients' condition on admission," the authors wrote.
"Given that this is a retrospective as well as a small study, we cannot make any clear recommendations, however our findings suggest that rather than delay dialysis, concern should be placed on the degree and rate that potassium levels change," they added.
The study appears in Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN).