Background: Japanese haemodialysis (HD) patients not only have a very low mortality and hospitalization risk but also low haemoglobin (Hb) levels. Internationally, anaemia is associated with mortality, hospitalization and health-related quality of life (QoL) measures of HD patients.
Methods: Longitudinal data collected from 1999 to 2006 from 60 to 64 representative Japanese dialysis units participating in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) were used to describe anaemia management practices and outcomes for Japanese HD patients.
Results: From 1999 to 2006, patient mean Hb increased from 9.7 g/dl to 10.4 g/dl, and the percentage of facilities with median Hb >or=10 g/dl increased from 27% to 75%. Hb was measured in the supine position for 90% of patients, resulting in substantially lower reported Hb values than those seen in other countries. As of 2006, erythropoietin (Epo) was prescribed to 83% of HD patients; mean Epo dose was 5231 units/week; intravenous (IV) iron use was 33% and median IV iron dose was 160 mg/month. Many patient- and facility-level factors were significantly related to higher Hb. A consistent overall pattern of lower mortality risk with higher baseline Hb levels was seen (RR = 0.89 per 1 g/dl higher Hb, P = 0.003). Facilities with median Hb >or=10.4 displayed a lower mortality risk (RR = 0.77, P = 0.03) versus facility median Hb <10.4 g/dl. Lower Hb levels were not significantly related to hospitalization risk, but were associated with lower QoL scores.
Conclusions: These results provide detailed information on anaemia management practices in Japan and the relationships of anaemia control with outcomes, with implications of anaemia management worldwide.