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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 
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spacing1What do we know about kidney health among Indigenous people?

What is known about kidney health among Indigenous people?

Healthy kidneys help the body by removing waste and extra water, and keeping the blood clean and chemically balanced [1]. When the kidneys stop working properly – as is the case when someone has kidney disease – ‘waste’ can build up in the blood and damage the body. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is when the kidneys gradually stop working [2]. End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is when the kidneys have totally or almost totally stopped working. People with ESKD must either have regular dialysis (be hooked up to a machine that filters the blood) or have a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Kidney disease is a serious health problem for many Indigenous people. In 2008-2012, ESKD was seven times more common for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people [Derived from [3][4][5][6]].

ESKD affects Indigenous people when they are much younger than it does among non-Indigenous people. In 2008-2012, almost three-in-five Indigenous people who were diagnosed with kidney disease were younger than 55 years of age (less than one-third of non-Indigenous people were younger than 55 years of age) (Figure 1) [Derived from [3][4][5][6]].

The rates of ESKD were highest for Indigenous people living in the NT (16 times higher for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people) and WA (11 times higher) [Derived from [3][4][5][6]].

Figure 1. Rates (per million) of end-stage kidney disease for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by age-group (years) 2008-2012

Rates (per million) of end-stage kidney disease for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by age-group (years) 2008-2012

Source: Derived from ANZDATA, 2013 [6], ABS, 2010[3] , ABS, 2001[4], ABS, 2009 [5]
Note: These rates show how many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people had ESKD per million. This means, for example, that for every 1 million Indigenous people aged 55-64 years, over 2,000 had ESKD in 2008-2012.

Dialysis was the most common reason for Indigenous people to be admitted to hospital in 2011-12 [7]. Almost one-half of all Indigenous hospital admissions were for dialysis. Indigenous people were admitted to hospital for dialysis around 12 times more often than were other Australians.

Some people need to have dialysis every day. Dialysis can be undertaken at hospitals, special out-of-hospital satellite units, or in the home (which requires special equipment and training for the patient and their carers, and is very costly) [8]. Accessing dialysis can sometimes be very difficult for Indigenous people who live in rural or remote locations and they may have to travel to receive treatment.

In 2006-2010, Indigenous people were almost four times more likely to die from kidney disease than were non-Indigenous people [9].

References

  1. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (2009) The kidneys and how they work. Retrieved 2009 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/pdf/yourkidneys.pdf
  2. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) management in general practice (2009) Kidney Health Australia
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) Australian demographic statistics, December quarter 2010. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2001) Australian demographic statistics: June quarter 2001. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) Experimental estimates and projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Projected population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Australia, states and territories, 2006-2021 series [data cube]. Retrieved 8 September 2009 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/log?openagent&32380ds002_2006.srd&3238.0&Data%20Cubes&E79A5308D989173FCA25762A001CE1C3&0&1991%20to%202021&08.09.2009&Latest
  6. End stage renal disease notifications, by Indigenous status, age, jurisdiction and year [2008 to 2012, unpublished] (2013) Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013) Australian hospital statistics 2011–12: national tables for principal diagnoses (part 1). Retrieved 19 April 2013 from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129544524
  8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011) Chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2011. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  9. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (2012) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework: 2012 report. Canberra: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Department of Health and Ageing
 
Last updated: 25 September 2014
 
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