Acid-base alterations in patients with kidney failure and on hemodialysis (HD) treatment contribute to (1) intradialytic hypercapnia and hypoxia, (2) hemodynamic instability and cardiac arrhythmia, (3) systemic inflammation, and (4) a number of associated electrolyte alterations including potentiating effects of hypokalemia, hypocalcemia and, chronically, soft-tissue and vascular calcification, imparting poor prognosis and mortality. This paper discusses acid-base regulation and pathogenesis of dysregulation in patients with kidney failure. Major organ and systemic effects of acid-base perturbations with a specific focus on kidney failure patients on HD are emphasized, and potential mitigating strategies proposed. The high rate of HD-related complications, specifically those that can be accounted for by rapid and steep acid-base perturbations imposed by HD treatment, attests to the pressing need for investigations to establish a better dialysis regimen.
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