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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 
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spacing1What do we know 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 renal disease (ESRD) is when the kidneys have totally or almost totally stopped working. People with ESRD 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 2009-2013, ESRD was six times more common for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people (Derived from [3][4][5][6]).

ESRD affects Indigenous people when they are much younger compared with non-Indigenous people. In 2009-2015, almost three-in-five Indigenous people who were diagnosed with kidney disease were younger than 55 years (less than one-third of non-Indigenous people were younger than 55 years) (Figure 1) (Derived from [3][4][5][6]).

The rates of ESRD were highest for Indigenous people living in the NT (17 times higher for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people) and WA (10 times higher) (Derived from [3][4][5][6]).

Figure 1. Rates (per million) of end-stage renal disease for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by age-group (years) 2009-2013

Rates (per million) of end-stage kidney disease for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by age-group (years) 2009-2013

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 1,800 had ESKD in 2009-2013.
Source: Derived from ANZDATA, 2014 [4], ABS, 2014 [3], ABS, 2011 [5], ABS, 2003 [6]

Dialysis was the most common reason for Indigenous people to be admitted to hospital in 2012-13 [7]. Almost one-half of all Indigenous hospital admissions were for dialysis. Indigenous people were admitted to hospital for dialysis around 10 times more often than other Australians [8].

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) [9]. 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 2008-2012, Indigenous people were almost three times more likely to die from kidney disease than non-Indigenous people [10].

References

  1. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (2014) The kidneys and how they work. Retrieved 2014 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/yourkidneys/
  2. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) management in general practice (2012) Kidney Health Australia
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Estimates and projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  4. End stage renal disease notifications, by Indigenous status, age, jurisdiction and year [2009 to 2013, unpublished] (2014) Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) Australian demographic statistics, June quarter 2011. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003) Australian demographic statistics quarterly: September quarter 2002. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014) Australian hospital statistics 2012-13. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014) Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease: Australian facts: morbidity - hospital care. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  9. 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
  10. Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (2014) Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: key indicators 2014. Canberra: Productivity Commission
 
Last updated: 17 June 2015
 
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