L-Carnitine supplementation keeps dialysis patients out of the hospital

January 22, 2008

Researchers at the Chronic Disease Research Group, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, state that L-Carnitine deficiency is common in dialysis patients. Although the effect of intravenous L-Carnitine therapy was studied in small trials, the effect on global outcomes in larger populations of dialysis patients is unclear.
They tested the effect of 1 or more grams of L-Carnitine per dialysis session for 10 or more sessions during a month on subsequent hospitalization days. Treated patients were older with more severe comorbidity (additional health conditions) and larger erythropoietin doses than untreated patients; the drug erythropoietin is used to increase the production of red blood cells (patients on dialysis are frequently anemic). In repeated analysis adjusted for demographic characteristics and disease severity, 1 g or greater per dialysis session of L-Carnitine for 10 or more sessions during a month was associated with a 10.8% subsequent-month decrease in hospitalization days. In model analysis, L-Carnitine therapy was associated with a 21.7% decrease in hospitalization days. Because hemodialysis patients are hospitalized about 15 days yearly, the association of monthly L-Carnitine regimen with lower hospitalization rate is clinically significant. The study is published in the November 2007 issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation.