Muscle could Improve Survival for Kidney Disease Patients

New research suggests dialysis patients with muscle mass live longer. The findings suggest using weights to build muscle, or taking medications to improve lean muscle mass might improve survival for patients with kidney failure.

Researchers looked at the effect of lean muscle mass versus higher body mass index (BMI) among 792 dialysis patients. Past studies have shown that patients with increased BMI live longer, but did not differentiate between muscle and fat mass.

The study, conducted by Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh MD, PhD (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center) and his colleagues, measured patients' mid-arm muscle circumference (a measure of lean mass) and triceps skinfold (a measure of fat mass) over a 5-year period.

Dialysis Patients with Muscle Mass 37 Percent Less Likely to Die

During the study, dialysis patients with high mid-arm muscle mass were 37 percent less likely to die. Not only did they live longer, but they also scored better on mental health tests.

Dr. Kalantar-Zadeh says more studies are needed to verify the findings, but "it is possible that interventions that can improve muscle mass or increase lean body mass can lead to better clinical outcomes and greater survival in tens of thousands of dialysis patients and probably millions of individuals with other stages of chronic kidney disease or other chronic disease states."

More research is needed to understand the complexity and underlying mechanisms between muscle mass and improved survival for patients with kidney disease, found in the study.

Clin. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol: doi:10.2215/CJN.02080310