The United States Renal Data System (USRDS) has released its annual report, showing both good and bad news in kidney disease trends. The report was released by the managing center based at the University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center, in collaboration with the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health.
According to the report, which is based on 2013 data, U.S. mortality rates since 1996 declined by 28 percent for dialysis patients and by 40 percent for transplant patients. The use of dialysis at home, when patients can clear excess fluid and waste from their kidneys through a home dialysis machine, is up 52 percent from 10 years ago. But numbers continue to rise in end-stage kidney disease, when dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary for survival. The number of people on dialysis increased 4 percent in 2013 to 466,607, a 63.2 percent increase since 2000. By the end of 2013, there were 661,648 prevalent cases of end stage renal disease (ESRD) in the U.S., or about 2,034 cases per million.
According to the report, the waiting list for kidney transplants was 2.7 times larger than the reserve of donor kidneys. A total of 17,600 kidney transplants were preformed in 2013.
“Overall trends for end-stage kidney disease are promising for those affected,” Rajiv Saran, M.D., professor of internal medicine at U-M Health System and director of the USRDS coordinating center, said in a news release. “Patients on dialysis are living longer, and equally positive, survival rates have steadily improved among recipients of both living and deceased donor kidney transplants.”
Although the report features positive trends, Saran said it is crucial to also look at areas where improvement is clearly necessary. “Several lifestyle-related chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases can contribute to kidney disease,” Saran said. “Monitoring and early treatment of those conditions are key to prevention, and can help patients keep their kidney disease under control.”
While patients with kidney disease are living longer, the report also notes an increase in the medical costs. Medicare spending for patients age 65 and up with chronic kidney disease was more than $50 billion in 2013, representing 20 percent of all Medicare spending in this age group.
Saran said the report continues to emphasize the low rate of public awareness about kidney disease, which correlates to the low screening rates, when all that is needed is a urine test.
“Awareness of this silent but deadly killer may help prevent those with early-stage kidney disease from progressing,” Saran said. “Learning more about risk factors for the disease and early diagnosis are of vital importance as symptoms of kidney disease develop much later.”