New report provides clearer picture of end-stage kidney disease in Australia

The total incidence (number of new cases) of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) can now be better estimated, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

End-stage kidney disease is the most severe form of chronic kidney disease, where kidney function is so reduced that dialysis or a transplant is necessary for survival.

The report, End-stage kidney disease in Australia: total incidence 2003-2007, implements a new method of counting those with ESKD, for the first time taking into account both those who received dialysis or transplant and those who did not receive these treatments.

‘This provides a much more complete picture of the situation,’ said Dr Lynelle Moon, of the AIHW’s Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit.

The report shows that during the 2003-2007 period, there were nearly 21,500 new cases of ESKD in Australia. This amounts to about 21 cases per 100,000 people.

Men have total incidence rates 1.5 times as high as for women, and make up about 54% of cases.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have particularly high rates of ESKD: more than 6 times as high as for non-Indigenous Australians.

‘ESKD tends to occur at much younger ages in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ Dr Moon said.

‘The highest number of new cases in Indigenous Australians is found in people aged around 50 years—in the total Australian population, new cases are most common in people aged about 80 years.’

Little variation in incidence of ESKD was found across states and territories, except in the Northern Territory, which had much higher rates, reflecting the higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report also shows that for every new case of end-stage kidney disease that is treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation, there is one that is not.

‘It’s important to realise that for people aged under 65, around 90% of new cases receive dialysis or transplant. But in the older age groups the rates fall substantially, with only about 25% of new cases in people aged 80 or over receiving these treatments,’ Dr Moon said.

There are several factors influencing this, including medical reasons (such as the patient’s suitability for the treatment), personal choices, and access to services.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 21 June 2011

Further information: Dr Lynelle Moon, AIHW, (02) 6244 1235, mob. 0414 899 826

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer (02) 6244 1032