Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest During Dialysis Treatment

Certain products that are commonly used during dialysis treatments throughout the United States may have exposed individuals to an increased risk of serious and potentially life threatening heart injuries.

Fresenius Medical Care, which operates clinics that treat about one-third of the estimated 400,000 dialysis patients in the United States, is also the leading supplier of products used by other dialysis clinics that are not owned by the company.

Granuflo dry concentrate and NaturaLyte liquid concentrate, which are among the most widely used products during hemodialysis treatment, have been sold by Fresenius Medical Care without adequate warnings and instructions, potentially causing hundreds individuals to suffer a heart attack, cardiopulmonary arrest, stroke or sudden cardiac death.

The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential dialysis treatment heart attack lawsuits on behalf of individuals who died or suffered a devastating injury at a dialysis clinic or within 48 hours after hemodialysis treatment. To review a potential claim for yourself, a friend or family member, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.


During dialysis treatment, if Granuflo and NaturaLyte are administered without proper monitoring of bicarbonate buffers, it may cause metabolic alkalosis, which is a signficant risk factor for cardiopulmonary arrest in the dialysis unit.

Acetate contained in NaturaLyte (4.0 mEq/L) and Granuflo (8.0 mEq/L) is rapidly converted to bicarbonate by the liver. When combined with bicarbonate provided independently during hemodialysis, this may result in a bicarbonate overdose.

High bicarbonate levels can lead to metabolic alkalosis, which can cause a:

  • Heart Attack
  • Cardia Arrest
  • Stroke
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Sudden Death

These heart problems are a devastating complication of hemodialysis treatment. Cardiac arrest involves the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness caused when blood stops flowing to the brain and other organs. Dialysis treatment cardiac arrest usually results in death if it is not properly treated within minutes.

Heart attacks during dialysis treatment may occur when damage is suffered by the heart muscles due to blood supply that is severely reduced or stopped. This can also be fatal if not recognized and treated promptly.

Signs of metabolic alkalosis following dialysis treatment, which may occur before a heart attack or cardiac arrest, could include:

  • Slowed Breathing or Respiration
  • Rapid or Irregular Heart Rate
  • Drop in Blood Pressure
  • Nausea, Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Irritability, Twitching and Confusion
  • Blue or Purple Color to the Skin (possible sign of lack of oxygen)


While Granuflo and NaturaLyte have been used at dialysis centers throughout the United States, many of the clinics are actually owned by the company that manufacturers the hemodialysis products, Fresenius Medical Care. According to an internal review, there were at least 941 cases or cardiopulmonary arrest during dialysis treatment at Fresenius clinics during 2010.

According to allegations raised in lawsuits over heart attacks and cardiopulmonary arrest during dialysis treatments where Granuflo or NaturaLyte were used, Fresenius Medical Care knew or should have known about the risk of serious injury or death associated with incorrect prescription levels. However, they failed to warn consumers or the medical community and actually appear to have withheld important information that could have saved lives.

In November 2011, Fresenius provided a warning to their own clinics about the risk of cardiopulmonary arrest and death during dialysis treatment, but they failed to warn anyone outside the company for several months.

In March 2012, after receiving an inquiry from the FDA, the company did send a notification to outside clinics, indicating the importance of monitoring levels before and during dialysis treatments to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest.

As of mid-2012, clinics are now aware of the importance of adjusting dialysate bicarbonate prescriptions monthly with Granuflo and NaturaLyte. This is particularly true for individuals with serum pre-dialysis bicarbonate levels of greater than 24 mEq/L, which face the greatest risk of cardiopulmonary arrest from dialysis treatment.

Information suggests that individuals with even borderline elevated pre-dialysis bicarbonate levels and overt alkalosis are significantly associated with a 6 to 8 times greater risk of cardiopulmonary arrest and sudden death in the dialysis clinic.

Although all dialysis patients may have faced an increased risk of heart problems and death from Granuflo and NaturaLyte dialysis treatments, certain conditions associated with elevated bicarbonate levels may further increase the risk, including:

  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Conn’s Syndrome
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Other Lung Disease
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Hormone Disorders


The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential dialysis treatment cardiac arrest and heart attack lawsuits for individuals throughout the United States. It is not necessary that the exact products used during dialysis treatment be known, as our attorneys can investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury or death to determine if financial compensation may be available.

All dialysis heart injury cases are reviewed by our law firm on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no out of pocket expenses to hire a lawyer and there are no attorney fees unless a recovery is secured.