Background Information on Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is estimated to affect over 10% of the overall adult population, and is even more common in specific populations. It is an important example of a chronic disease; there are emerging guidelines for the management principles of such diseases, which result in disproportionate health care expenditures, in addition to incalculable human costs.

Chronic kidney failure often leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD; chronic renal failure), and a need for “renal replacement therapy” (dialysis or kidney transplantation).  It is estimated that 1.5 million persons are receiving dialysis world-wide, 80% of whom live in North America, Western Europe or Japan. In most parts of the world, the majority of patients with kidney failure die of their disease.

In the U.S. in 2007, approximately 368,000 patients were receiving dialysis. In that year, there were 110,000 new kidney failure patients, and approximately 88,000 deaths related to this disease.

At the end of 2009, over 23,000 Canadians were receiving dialysis and over 15,000 had received kidney transplants. In that year, there were approximately 5500 new kidney failure patients in Canada, an increase of 58% from 1990.

Complications from diabetes account for a minimum of  25-30% of all new cases of kidney failure, a percentage that is much higher in certain populations, for example First Nations.

Mortality rates for dialysis patients are age-dependant. Overall 3 year dialysis mortality is 40% in Canada, but is much higher in older populations.

It is impossible to estimate the number of family members, health care professionals, health care administrators, industry representatives and others who are involved in the care of patients with chronic kidney disease. However, their number is clearly orders of magnitude greater than the patient population.

Further information about chronic kidney disease and dialysis can be found at these sites