LIFESTYLE is one of the major contributing factors to the high rate of dialysis occurring Ballarat.
The unit is delivering a record number of treatments.
In August, September and October 2015 more than 600 treatments per months were delivered. Up from 562 in October 2014.
Dr John Richmond said the hospital had recently seen a surge in the number of people needing dialysis that reflected a nation-wide increase.
Dr Richmond said national statistics showed an 8 per cent rise in dialysis treatment and said Ballarat had experienced an increase in excess of that.
“There are two major factors (for the increase),” Dr Richmond said.
“We have an ageing population, so renal failure in older people is becoming more common.
“We have also found that people on dialysis can continue to have a good quality of life.” The increase in diabetes diagnosis is also a contributing factor.
Improvements to medicine mean older people are more likely to survive other life defining medical conditions like heart disease and stroke. Dialysis Nurse Unit Manager, Cathy Thomas, said the unit started in 1984 with one patient, and by 1994, 838 treatments were recorded.
“Our current capacity is 49 patients, receiving more than 6,500 treatments a year at BHS,” Ms Thomas said.
“The majority of dialysis patients receive three treatments per week and each treatment generally takes between four and five hours.
“Some patients have been receiving dialysis for many years, whilst others may have received a kidney transplant.”
Developing kidney problems is part of the aging degenerative process.
“Thirty years ago we would only put a patient on dialysis if they could receive a transplant,” Dr Richmond said.
Medical professionals have moved away from that line of thought now –with some patients now on dialysis for decades. Dialysis is a treatment that mimics the kidney by removing waste products and correcting blood electrolyte composition, by means of an exchange between the patient’s blood and a dialysate fluid, across a semi-permeable membrane.
The hospital is now investigating options to increase the number of dialysis treatment chairs available.
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