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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1988;3(5):585-95.

Renal replacement therapy in patients with diabetic nephropathy, 1980-1985. Report from the European Dialysis and Transplant Association Registry.

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European Dialysis and Transplant Association Registry, St Thomas's Hospital London, UK.


Diabetic nephropathy, a rarely listed cause of end-stage renal failure (ESRF) among patients starting renal replacement therapy (RRT) in the early seventies, has progressively gained in importance and become one of the major reasons for the continuous growth of the patient population on RRT in most European countries. Amongst new patients commencing RRT in 1985, the acceptance rate varied between 3 and 12 per million population for type I diabetes mellitus and between one and four per million population for type II diabetes mellitus. Nordic countries, particularly Sweden and Finland, had the highest acceptance rate of young patients with type I diabetes mellitus whose median ages were 38-42 years. In most central and southern European countries the median age of patients with type I diabetes mellitus varied between 50 and 58 years. The high number of young patients with type I diabetes mellitus and ESRF in Nordic countries point to a different natural history of this disease. It cannot be excluded, however, that the higher median age in other countries might result from doctors mistakenly diagnosing type I disease in patients with type II disease who need insulin treatment. Patients with type II diabetes mellitus had a similar age distribution at start of RRT throughout Europe and their median ages clustered around 60 years in most countries. The contribution of haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and renal transplantation was analysed for diabetic compared to non-diabetic ESRF. Despite large geographical differences in the proportional use of methods of treatment, a general trend to apply CAPD more frequently in diabetic as compared to non-diabetic patients was observed, and this was true for countries with both predominant haemodialysis and predominant transplant programmes. Transplantation without prior dialysis was performed in 17% of Swedish and 30% of Norwegian patients with type I diabetes mellitus. In order to better explain the mortality of patients with diabetic ESRF, the proportional distribution of causes of death was analysed. Myocardial ischaemia and infarction was confirmed to be the leading cause of death in patients with diabetes mellitus on RRT. The coronary death rate was estimated to be 10 times greater in young patients with type I diabetes mellitus as compared to their non-diabetic counterparts. Other cardiovascular as well as infectious causes were recorded in a similar proportion of deaths in diabetics as in non-diabetics. Cancer deaths, however, appeared to be definitely less frequent in patients on RRT due to diabetic nephropathy.

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