4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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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, anaemia and uremia. Kidney disease is also often associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If kidney disease is detected early enough, the progress of the disease can be slowed and sometimes prevented[1]. In 2017, there were 20,851 deaths where kidney diseases were certified as being a contributory factor to mortality, accounting for 13.0% of all deaths[2].


Chronic kidney disease has a number of stages, ranging in severity from Stage 1 to Stage 5, with the early stages often showing no symptoms. An individual's kidney function can improve or regress during the early stages of the disease but once Stages 4 and 5 are reached, kidney function is severely reduced and unlikely to improve. A person with end stage kidney disease is generally reliant on kidney replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant[3]. The National Health Survey does not collect information regarding the different Stages of chronic kidney disease.

Data on kidney disease presented here 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.


In 2017-18, 1.0% of Australians (237,800 people) had kidney disease. The prevalence of kidney disease has remained relatively stable since 2011-12 (0.8% of the population or 181,900 people).

Males and females had similar rates of kidney disease (both 1.0%), with the prevalence increasing with age. In 2017-18, the proportion of people with kidney disease was less than 1% up to age 54, then increases to 2.4% for people aged 65-74 years and 4.6% of people aged 75 years and over.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with kidney disease, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


In 2011-12, biomedical information was collected for the first time by ABS, including tests measuring aspects of kidney function. Results were used to determine indicators of chronic kidney disease and its Stages. Around 1.7 million people (10.0%) aged 18 years and over had indicators of chronic kidney disease based on these tests. 

Of these people, only 6.1% had reported having kidney disease. This suggests that a large proportion of people with indicators of chronic kidney disease were unaware that they had the condition. However, it is possible that not all those people whose tests provided an indication of chronic kidney disease had the condition, as tests at a single point in time cannot provide a diagnosis for kidney disease and could indicate the presence of an acute kidney condition or infection instead. Kidney disease can only be confirmed if indicators are persistent for at least three months[4].

For more information see Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.005)


1 Better Health Channel, Kidney disease, 2018 <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/kidney-disease>; last accessed 19/10/2018
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2017~Main%20Features~Australia's%20leading%20causes%20of%20death,%202017~2>; last accessed 07/11/2018
3 Kidney Health Australia, Kidney Disease <https://kidney.org.au/your-kidneys/support/kidney-disease/types>; last accessed 01/11/2018
4 Kidney Health Australia, Defining chronic kidney disease, 2018 <https://kidney.org.au/your-kidneys/detect/kidney-disease/defining-chronic-kidney-disease>; last accessed 04/12/2018