Background: Arteriovenous fistulas (AVF) have been the main vascular accesses for haemodialysis patients, but the maintenance after maturation poses serious challenges. Arm exercises promote the maturation of AVFs. However, few studies have evaluated the effect of arm exercise on matured AVF and addressed the intervention for late fistula failure. Objectives: The study was conducted to explore the effect of dumbbell exercise on mature AVF. Methods: 86 participants undergoing haemodialysis with AVFs were randomized into the control group and experimental group. The experimental group held 6-pound dumbbells on non-dialysis days for 3 months, while the control group squeezed rubber balls. Results: For blood flow of draining vein (DV; primary outcome), the between-group effects, interaction effect and time effect showed significant differences. A significant increase in blood flow of DV was observed in the dumbbell group at the 3rd month (mean difference, 359.50 [111.90–829.05] mL/min; p = 0.001). The difference in blood flow of AVF proximal artery, blood flow of brachial artery, the diameter of DV and the incidence of adverse events at 3 months (secondary outcomes) between the 2 groups was insignificant. Conclusion: Prolonged training with arm exercises is essential for patients with AVFs though the fistula has matured. The designed dumbbell exercise is an economical, effective intervention to maintain the function of AVF, especially for patients with potential reduction of access blood flow and no percutaneous transluminal angioplasty indication.

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