Acute kidney injury hospitalisations more than double

skeleton with 3D kidneys

Hospitalisation rates for acute kidney injury have more than doubled over the last decade—and this condition affects some population groups more than others, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Acute kidney injury in Australia: a first national snapshot, is the first Australian national report on acute kidney injury.

Acute kidney injury is a condition that occurs when there is an abrupt loss of kidney function. It has a wide range of causes including various kidney diseases, but is often the result of injury or trauma, or extreme inflammation.

Its risk factors include advanced age, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and pre-existing chronic kidney disease.

Acute kidney injury is a complex condition that often results in prolonged hospitalisation and which may progress to severe kidney damage. This can result in end-stage kidney disease and long-term dialysis, or death.

The report  shows that there were 131,780 hospitalisations involving acute kidney injury in 2012-13 representing 1.6% of all hospitalisations.

“When looking just at hospitalisations where acute kidney injury was the main reason for hospitalisation, we see a substantial increase in hospitalisations, with the annual number of hospitalisations more than doubling from 8,050 to 18,010 between 2000-01 and 2012-13,” says AIHW spokesperson Sushma Mathur.

The average length of stay in hospital for acute kidney injury was twice as long as it was for hospitalisations overall (11.4 days compared with 5.6 days).

Although anyone can be affected by acute kidney injury, older people, those living in remote areas, those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, have higher hospitalisation or death rates due to acute kidney injury.

“For example, hospitalisation and death rates were at least twice as high among Indigenous Australians as other Australians, and acute kidney injury hospitalisation rates in the 85 and over age group were at least 4 times as high as in the 65-74 age group,” Mathur says.

Acute kidney injury is an under-recognised condition in Australia. While this first national report highlights the emerging burden of acute kidney injury, it may not provide a comprehensive picture of all cases of acute kidney injury in Australia.

“Further research and monitoring is crucial for guiding preventive measures, assisting with clinical care and informing health policy and planning,” Mathur says.

The report’s release coincides with the opening of the 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Nephrology, in Canberra.

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