Patients’ and family members’ perspectives on arrhythmias and sudden death in dialysis: the HeartLink focus groups pilot study

Eric J. Xu, La Pricia Lewis Boyer, Bernard G. Jaar, Patti L. Ephraim, Luis Gimenez, Alan Cheng, Jonathan Chrispin, Matthew R. Weir, Dominic Raj, Eliseo Guallar, Tariq Shafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Patients receiving dialysis face a high risk of cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. Few patients, however, are aware of this risk. Implantable cardiac monitors are currently available for clinical use and can continuously monitor cardiac rhythms without the need for transvenous leads. Our goal was to gauge patients’ and family members’ perceptions of these risks and to identify their concerns about cardiac monitors. Methods: Two 90-minute focus groups were conducted: one with patients receiving in-center hemodialysis and one with their family members. Trained moderators assessed: (1) knowledge of cardiovascular disease; (2) cardiovascular disease risk in dialysis; (3) risk of death due to cardiovascular disease; (4) best ways to convey this risk to patients/families; and (5) concerns about cardiac monitors. The sessions were audiotaped, transcribed, and independently analyzed by two reviewers to identify core themes. Emblematic quotations were chosen to illustrate the final themes. Results: Nine adult patients and three family members participated. Patients felt education was inadequate and had little knowledge of arrhythmias. Patients’/families’ concerns regarding cardiac monitors were related to adverse effects, the notification process, and cosmetic effects. Patients/families felt that nephrologists, not dialysis staff, would be the best source for education. Conclusions: The preliminary data from this small study population suggest that patients/families are not well aware of the high risk of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death in dialysis. Further investigation is required to gauge this awareness among patients/families and to assess their impressions of implantable cardiac monitors for arrhythmia detection and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number199
JournalBMC Nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Arrhythmia
  • Dialysis
  • Family perspectives
  • Focus groups
  • Patient perspectives
  • Sudden cardiac death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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