Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Costs of kidney disease plague rise $1m a week

Australians are having dialysis and transplants in record numbers as dire predictions of rampant kidney disease become reality.

Latest figures from ANZDATA show that in just one year, the number of new kidney patients entering dialysis and kidney programs nationally rose 11.7 per cent from 2004 to 2005.

For the past decade, the average annual increase has been about 5 per cent.

Dialysis and transplant are the only treatments for kidney failure, the end product of kidney disease.

In WA, the number of new kidney patients on dialysis or in the transplant program in 2005 rose nearly twice as fast as in the previous year.

There were 236 new patients in WA in 2005 compared with 216 in 2004, an 8.4 per cent rise compared with a 5 per cent rise between 2003 and 2004.

Kidney Health Australia medical director Tim Mathew said there was no confirmed reason for the massive increase but lifestyle factors could be to blame. He said it cost about $70,000 a year to provide a patient with dialysis. With the increasing number of patients and the cost of transplants, the cost of kidney disease to the community was soaring $1 million a week.

The increases were across the common types of kidney disease, including diabetes (up 20 per cent), glomerulonephritis (10 per cent) and polycystic kidney disease (33 per cent).

The increases were highest in the 25-34 age group (up 24 per cent) and 55 to 64 age group (up 18 per cent).

Diabetes WA chief executive Liz Kerrigan Benson said the trend was deeply worrying but not a surprise given kidney disease was one of the serious health complications of diabetes and type 2 diabetes had risen to epidemic proportions in Australia.

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