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Whirlpools Pose Hidden Danger to Kidney

Dialysis Patients May Risk Serious Internal Injury
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Feb. 6, 2003 -- Hot tubs and jacuzzis may pose a hidden danger to people who undergo dialysis for kidney disease. Researchers say the high temperatures and strong pressure of the water jets are likely responsible for seriously injuring the kidney of a man who used a whirlpool and had dialysis the next day.

A letter published in the Feb. 8 issue of The Lancet describes a 36-year-old man with kidney failure who went swimming at an indoor pool under his doctor's advice to help improve his high blood pressure. After the swim, the man took a dip in a nearby whirlpool and said the pressure was very strong.

The next day, the man underwent five hours of dialysis, and his blood pressure and heart rate appeared normal. But an hour later, he experienced extreme pain and returned to the clinic for examination.

After several tests, doctors found his left kidney had been severely damaged and was bleeding into his abdomen.

Lutz Liefeldt, MD, of the nephrology unit of the medical clinic of the Humboldt-Universität Berlin, in Berlin, Germany, and colleagues say they believe the patient's kidney was injured by the whirlpool. But the symptoms emerged only after the internal bleeding caused by the injury was intensified by dialysis.

The patient's internal bleeding was eventually stopped and he recovered.

But researchers say this example shows that a hot tub may pose serious health risks for people with kidney disease and potentially also those with extremely high blood pressure.

SOURCE: The Lancet, Feb. 8, 2003.

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