Number of people needing kidney dialysis rises by 50%

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THERE HAS been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people in the Republic needing kidney dialysis and this demand will continue to grow, according to the clinical director of the Health Service Executive’s National Renal Office (NRO).

Speaking in advance of the launch of an updated national renal strategy at Croke Park on World Kidney Day next Thursday, Dr Liam Plant said the expansion of dialysis would have to take place in an integrated manner, using satellite clinics linked to the 11 existing hospital units.

“Even if our transplant rate improves, more people will still need haemodialysis. We have to plan to meet the need for these patients,” Dr Plant told The Irish Times.

Dr Plant is also a consultant nephrologist at Cork University Hospital.

Almost 400 new patients develop end-stage kidney disease here every year; some two- thirds of new patients are male, with 44 per cent over 65 years of age.

According to the NRO clinical director, most patients (83 per cent) are treated initially with haemodialysis, a procedure whereby the body’s waste products are removed from the blood stream using an artificial kidney.

Some 15 per cent of those with end-stage renal failure are treated with peritoneal dialysis, which patients are taught to carry out at home, while 2 per cent receive an early kidney transplant before the renal failure becomes critical.

Research carried out by Dr Plant shows the number of end-stage kidney disease patients treated by dialysis rose by 50 per cent between 2003 and 2007. This translated into a need for 80,000 individual haemodialysis treatments per annum in Ireland.

But there have been significant variations in increased demand from year to year and from region to region.

Dr Plant predicted that, in future, 85-165 people each year will require dialysis for the first time. Each dialysis patient requires about 156 treatment sessions per annum, leading to an additional capacity requirement of up to 26,000 treatments.

Dr Liam Glynn, a lecturer in the department of general practice at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and a GP expert in kidney disease, who will also address Thursday’s meeting, said it was important to see kidney disease in the context of other chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, with which it, in many cases, co-existed.

“Coronary artery disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are common diagnosis in the community and are responsible for more than 40 per cent of deaths here,” he said. “Multimorbidity may be a useful indicator when it comes to prioritising the management of patients with chronic disease in the community.

“We need to place individuals at the centre of care and help map appropriate pathways for them as they negotiate their way through the health system.”

The Croke Park event will cater for both the public and healthcare professionals.

Jointly organised by the Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Nephrology Society, some 600 second-level students from the greater Dublin area will participate in interactive workshops which will demonstrate how blood pressure and kidney function are linked.

The theme for World Kidney Day is “Keep the Pressure Down”, highlighting the role of high blood pressure as both a risk factor and a symptom of chronic kidney disease.

  • The Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Nephrology Society will jointly host lectures in Croke Park, Dublin on Thursday, March 12th to mark World Kidney Day. An updated national renal strategy will also be launched at the event
  • For more information visit www.ika.ie.
  • E-mail info@worldkidneyday.org.
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