Limerick researchers examine link between smokers and kidney transplants

Limerick researchers examine link between smokers and kidney transplants

Prof Austin Stack was the lead author of the research

RESEARCH published by University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School shows that dialysis patients who smoke are less likely to receive a lifesaving kidney transplant and much more likely to die sooner.

The research, entitled ‘Differential Impact of Smoking on Mortality and Kidney Transplantation among adult Men and Women undergoing Dialysis’, was funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Heart Foundation, and gathered findings from 1,220,000 US dialysis patients, from 1995 to 2010, over a period of two years.

According to lead author of the research, Prof Austin Stack, patients with kidney failure who are on dialysis have life spans that can be one-fifth that of the general population.

The research showed that smokers were “significantly more likely to die” than non-smokers; smoking affected lifespans in younger patients than older patients; and smoking had a more adverse impact on those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, such as stroke, and coronary disease.

Prof Stack, who is a consultant nephrologist at University Hospitals Group and director of Health Research Institute, said:

“Smoking is a well-known risk factor for death and disability for patients in the general population.  Our study, one of the largest ever conducted;found that smokers have alarmingly high rates of premature death. Quite strikingly, the risks of death were far greater in younger men and younger women than in older patients.

“Equally concerning, dialysis patients who smoked experienced lower rates of kidney transplantation and thus the opportunity to extend survival and quality of life.  These risks were considerable in that smokers were between 26% and 50% less likely to receive a kidney transplant taking all other factors into consideration. Smoking is a major risk amplifier for all patients on dialysis. Consequently, we believe that kidney specialists and all healthcare providers should engage with their patients to pursue smoking cessation strategies at each and every opportunity.”