Objective and methods: Serum albumin concentrations are associated with mortality, and respond to nutritional and inflammatory states. To explore whether changing demographics and practice patterns in dialysis have influenced serum albumin concentrations, we analyzed trends in serum albumin among incident patients on dialysis from 1995 through 2004.
Results: Mean serum albumin concentrations declined significantly over time, even after accounting for changes in age, diabetes, body size, and other factors. Although laboratory assays were not uniform within or across years, serum albumin declined over time, regardless of the reported laboratory lower limit of normal. Moreover, serum albumin retained its potent association with mortality over time. Lower serum albumin was especially hazardous among younger patients and blacks, and was less hazardous among persons with diabetes as a primary cause of kidney disease.
Conclusions: Despite higher body weights and the initiation of dialysis earlier in the course of progressive chronic kidney disease, hypoalbuminemia remains common and hazardous to persons starting dialysis.