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A rising burden

Chronic kidney disease is a significant burden to Australia’s health care system.

Hospitalisations related to chronic kidney disease (CKD) are increasing, and look likely to remain a significant burden to Australia’s health care system, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

People with CKD require extensive hospital services, particularly those with end-stage kidney disease who need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

The report, Chronic kidney disease hospitalisations in Australia 2000-01 to 2007-08, shows that CKD contributed to almost 1.2 million hospitalisations in Australia in 2007-08, one million of which were for regular dialysis.

‘This was about 15 per cent of all hospitalisations for that year, with dialysis treatment the most common reason for hospitalisation in Australia,’ said Frances Green, of the institute’s Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit.

Between 2000-01 and 2007-08, the number of hospitalisations for regular dialysis increased by about 70 per cent - an average of nearly 60,000 hospitalisations per year.

While it has been estimated that as many as one in seven Australians aged 25 years and over have some degree of CKD, the disease is much more common among the elderly, and hospitalisation rates are highest among those aged over 70 years.

“Although some of the increase in hospitalisations for CKD can be attributed to the ageing of the population, even after adjusting for age these increases remain,” Green said.

“A common cause of CKD is diabetes, and it is likely that the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, as well as the ageing population, will result in further increases in CKD hospitalisations over time.”

The report shows that men were 1.6 times as likely as women to be hospitalised for regular dialysis, while indigenous Australians were hospitalised at 11 times the rate of their non-indigenous counterparts. Australians living in remote areas were also more likely to be hospitalised for CKD than those living in major cities.

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