Renal care glossary Key medical terms

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The sudden and mostly temporary loss of kidney function. Acute renal failure can be caused by several factors such as diminished blood supply to the kidneys, obstructed urine flow or traumatic damage to the kidneys caused by an accident, for example. Acute renal failure can be treated by pharmaceuticals or renal replacement therapy (often at the intensive care unit in a hospital) or both.

A blood vessel that is made by surgically sewing together an artery and a vein (often in the forearm) to create the rapid blood flow needed for efficient hemodialysis treatment. It is also called a native fistula if it is created solely with sutures and without synthetic material.

The pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and is treated by blood pressure medication (antihypertensives).

A flexible plastic tube for insertion into a body cavity or vessels used to allow the passage of fluids.

The slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years, resulting in permanent kidney failure called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People with permanent kidney failure need dialysis or a kidney transplant to replace the work of the diseased kidneys.

A disease in which abnormal carbohydrate metabolism causes high glucose levels and which can lead to kidney failure. About 40% of all patients with diabetes develop kidney disease. More than 40% of all dialysis patients suffer from diabetes.

An artificial medical treatment process by which toxic waste products and water are removed from a patient’s body.

The filtering unit of a dialysis machine. The dialyzer removes waste products and excess water from the blood.

A commonly used abbreviation for erythropoietin.

A hormone produced by healthy kidneys that tells the bone marrow to produce erythrocytes (red blood cells). Synthetic hormone versions are available for kidney patients. Lack of this hormone may lead to renal anemia.

The substance in erythrocytes which carries oxygen around the body. The iron contained in hemoglobin is responsible for the red color of the blood. A decreased level of hemoglobin is known as anemia. Anemia can cause tiredness, shortness of breath and paleness.

Means implantation of a kidney from a donor. It is mainly performed if one’s kidneys do not work.

The Peritoneum is a membrane in your abdomen.

Phosphate is a substance found in many foods. The kidney usually keeps the balance right by removing it when there is too much in the body. Impaired kidneys mostly are unable to remove phosphate. As a consequence phosphate levels in the blood may rise. High phosphate levels may cause itching, and lead to hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) or bone diseases.

Potassium is a mineral and it is found in many foods, such as fruits and vegetables (like bananas, potatoes or cucumber), coffee and crisps. When the kidneys are not working properly potassium may not be removed and the blood levels may get high. If the potassium levels are too high or too low it may affect the heart rhythm.

The drop of hemoglobin values caused by kidney disease. It leads to a reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

The place where a team of healthcare professionals treat kidney patients. It may also be called dialysis center, as kidney patients receive dialysis treatment in the center.

A method of gaining entry to the bloodstream so that dialysis can be performed. AV fistula is one form of access for hemodialysis.

An access that is made by connecting one end of a piece of artificial vein to the patient’s vein and the other end to the patient’s artery. The graft is a larger vessel that allows the rapid blood flow needed for efficient hemodialysis. It is commonly called a graft.