THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Fatigue in dialysis patients may be a warning sign of an impending heart attack or other serious heart problems, a new study suggests.
Japanese researchers had 788 dialysis patients complete a fatigue questionnaire and found that about 16 percent of them had a high fatigue score. After two years of follow-up, patients with high fatigue scores were more than twice as likely to have suffered cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke.
The fatigue questionnaire used in the study differentiates fatigue from many factors associated with it, including anxiety, depression, pain, infection and overwork. The researchers found that fatigue was the strongest predictor of cardiovascular risk, even in patients with known risk factors, such as diabetes, malnutrition and previous cardiovascular disease.
"Our research identifies fatigue as an important bio-alarm to predict cardiovascular events in dialysis patients, particularly those who are well-nourished and healthy-looking," study co-leader Dr. Hidenori Koyama of Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, said in a news release.
The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Koyama and colleagues said further research is needed to learn more about the relationship between fatigue in dialysis patients and increased risk of cardiovascular events.
"Another important question is whether interventions for fatigue will be effective in preventing cardiovascular events," Koyama added.
The National Kidney Foundation explains how dialysis patients can keep their hearts healthy.