1. For-profit dialysis comes with risk

    If you're a dialysis patient, you probably already know you're facing rough odds: Twenty percent of these patients die each year, most of them waiting for a kidney transplant.

    But a new study found that where you get your dialysis mean the difference between life and death.

    Researchers say patients at nonprofit dialysis clinics have a 13 percent lower risk of death than those who visit for-profit chains.

    What's more, the biggest risk came from the biggest chains. Patients at the two largest, which control two-thirds of the dialysis market, had a 19 percent and 24 percent higher risk of death, respectively, than those at the biggest nonprofit chain.

    The study in Health Services Research didn't quite spell out the reason for all that risk--but it did point to an obvious suspect: money.

    The chains rake in big bucks, but they're not exactly putting those profits into better staff: The researchers found that nonprofit clinics had a higher ratio of nurses, while the for-profits relied more on patient care technicians.

    Despite the fancy title, those "technicians" are largely unlicensed and earn about half the money of dialysis nurses, according to Salary.com.

    That's great for profits... but terrible for patients.

    If you're a kidney patient, there aren't a lot of options out there--but it's something to be aware of when choosing your care.

    And here's something else to be aware of: pomegranate juice.

    A new study showed that dialysis patients who drink a glass of the antioxidant-rich juice before each treatment have reductions in inflammation as well as less of the damage caused by free radicals.

    That could help reduce the complications that come along with dialysis, and maybe even lower your death risk.

    But there's one catch here: Pomegranate juice is rich in potassium, something many kidney patients need to limit--so if you want to give this a try, be sure to work with your doctor to monitor your levels.

    Just make sure you talk to a real doctor... and not a technician!

  2. Don't let dialysis break your heart

    Those of you on dialysis have plenty to worry about. So it's always great when we can find ways to help you worry a little less.

    I know that one of the biggest concerns when you begin dialysis treatment is the threat of cardiovascular problems. But a new study points out a way to significantly reduce that risk.

    The study, published in the online version of The Lancet, found that dialysis patients who lowered their blood pressure levels also lowered their risk of cardiovascular incidents — including death — by one third.

    This is terrific news because, as anyone on dialysis will tell you, it's a high-risk group for death. We lose between 10 percent and 20 percent of our friends on dialysis each year, nearly half of them to heart-related incidents.

    Unfortunately, the researchers didn't attribute this great success to the lower blood pressure itself, but to the drugs they used to reduce those levels. If you're on dialysis, the last thing you want or need is more pills to pop, more interactions to worry about, and more side effects to manage.

    To say it was the drugs that reduced the risk of cardiovascular problems – instead of the lower blood pressure itself – well, that's like searching the sky and managing to miss the sun.

    If this latest study is accurate, then this is about getting your blood pressure under control more than anything else. While many people rely on pills and medications to do that, I can help you find a better way.

    Many blood pressure problems are caused by specific nutritional deficiencies. You could be deficient in key nutrients such as tyrosine or vitamin C. The point is, you can, on your own, learn how to correct those deficiencies and bring your blood pressure under control without drugs.

    I've put together a roadmap for getting your levels back to normal, and there's not a single prescription drug on it. And this could help anyone, not just dialysis patients. If you're trying to restore some order to your blood pressure, be sure to take a look at my recommendations in the May issue of Health Revelations.

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