Kidney disease is a chronic disease in which a person's kidney function is reduced or damaged. This affects the kidney's ability to filter blood and therefore control the body's water and other hormone levels, leading to increased fluid and waste within the body. The increase in these fluids can cause high blood pressure, anemia, and uremia. Kidney disease is associated with several other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and is a significant cause of mortality in Australia.
Data source and definitions
This data on kidney disease refers to persons who reported having been told by a doctor or nurse that they had kidney disease and that it was current and long-term; that is, their kidney disease was current at the time of interview and had lasted, or was expected to last, 6 months or more.
Kidney disease has a number of stages, ranging in severity from Stage 1 to Stage 5, with early kidney damage usually showing no symptoms. An individual's kidney function can improve or regress during the early stages of the disease but once Stage 5 is reached, known as end stage kidney disease, kidney function is unlikely to improve. A person with end stage kidney disease is reliant on kidney replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant.
More accurate information on the number of people with kidney disease based on measured levels of creatinine and albumin will be available upon release of results from the National Health Measures Survey in 2013. This information will also allow breakdown into the stages of kidney disease.
Kidney disease in the 2011-13 AHS was collected using a new separate 'kidney disease' module. In previous years kidney disease was collected as part of the 'long-term conditions' module, therefore 2011-12 data is not directly comparable to earlier years due to a change in collection methodology.
In 2011-12, 0.8% of the Australian population (181,900 people) reported having kidney disease. There was no difference in the rate of kidney disease for men and women (0.8% and 0.9% respectively).
Kidney disease, as with many health conditions, increases in prevalence across older ages. In 2011-12, people aged 75 years and above had the highest rate of kidney disease (3.7%)