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What Is Aquapheresis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Aquapheresis is a medical treatment for patients with fluid overload, where water and salt build up in their blood. This is a potential complication of heart failure, kidney disease, and some other medical conditions that may cause discomfort and pain for the patient. In aquapheresis treatments, the equipment processes blood through an ultrafiltration device to remove the excess salt and fluid before returning cleaned blood into circulation. Therapy is usually offered in a hospital or clinic environment so the patient can be monitored.

Patients experiencing fluid overload may be prescribed a low salt diet and given diuretics to help them express water. Their kidneys may not be up to the task, in which case they may be in need of aquapheresis to help them eliminate some of the water. The procedure has to be carefully controlled because moving too quickly could cause problems with the patient’s electrolyte balance or blood pressure. Equipment can be adjusted throughout the session to keep it safe for the patient.

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It is necessary to have a catheter placed for a technician to connect to the machine, and another for return of the filtered blood. Patients may need to sit for half an hour or more, depending on their level of fluid overload, while the machine passes the blood through a filter. To prevent clotting, anticoagulant medications may be administered with treatment so the blood moves freely. Blood spends a limited time out of the body during aquapheresis and monitoring allows providers to catch complications like falls in blood pressure or sudden changes in electrolytes.

Multiple aquapheresis treatments may be necessary in patients who are severely ill, as the fluid overload can recur. The schedule can depend on how well the patient’s condition is controlled. Between sessions, patients may use measures like avoiding salt and using their diuretics to keep fluid buildup low. They also remain attentive to warning signs like swelling in the extremities that indicate a return of excess fluid to the body.

Hospitalized patients may be able to receive mobile aquapheresis in their rooms, while in other cases they may need to travel to a different area of the facility. It can also be offered as an outpatient procedure to people who are healthy enough to stay at home. These patients come into a hospital or clinic for treatments and may receive medical evaluations and other care while they are visiting for aquapheresis sessions.

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