High temperatures and heavy rains can cause kidney failure patients to miss in-center dialysis appointments, according to research presented at the National Kidney Foundation 2016 Spring Clinical Meetings,

 Similar patterns of dialysis non-adherence have been observed in cold weather extremes, but this is the first time that moderately high temperatures have been identified as a barrier to an adequate dialysis regimen.

“It was very interesting that rates of hemodialysis non-adherence are notably increased above moderately high temperatures greater than 28oC (82.4oF), which are experienced in many geographies during the summer months,” said John Larkin, Director of Publications and Research at Fresenius Medical Care North America. 

Larkin and his team analyzed data from 158,994 in-center hemodialysis patients treated at Fresenius Medical Care North America clinics from June to July of 2014. They discovered that the rate of non-adherence to hemodialysis treatments (expressed as percent of total treatments) was observed to increase most notably at temperatures above 28oC (82.4oF) and precipitation levels above 200 mm per 24 hours (8 inches per 24 hours).

“The importance of the findings of our study is that geographical location matters when considering the causes of patient non-adherence to hemodialysis,” Larkin said. “In this case, we have demonstrated that higher temperatures and very high levels of precipitation in differing geographies are associated to increasing rates of patient non-adherence to hemodialysis during the summer.”

While most dialysis centers have emergency plans for extreme weather, this data supports the need for dialysis centers and social workers to evaluate patients based on their susceptibility to moderate weather fluctuations and that weather patterns in differing geographical locations should be taken into account in efforts to reduce patient non-adherence.

“That we’re seeing non-adherence rise when the temperature hits 85oF is really an eye opener,” Larkin said. “This shows there is a barrier and we need to find out what it is, if that is transit related or something else we can modify to reduce non-adherence.”