Patterns and predictors of early mortality in incident hemodialysis patients: new insights

Am J Nephrol. 2012;35(6):548-58. doi: 10.1159/000338673. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Background: Incident hemodialysis patients have the highest mortality in the first several months after starting dialysis treatments. We hypothesized that the patterns and risk factors associated with this early mortality differ from those in later dialysis therapy periods.

Methods: We examined mortality patterns and predictors during the first several months of hemodialysis treatment in 18,707 incident patients since the first week of hemodialysis therapy and estimated the population attributable fractions for selected time periods in the first 24 months.

Results: The 18,707 incident hemodialysis patients were 45% women and 54% diabetics. The standardized mortality ratios (95% confidence interval) in the 1st to 3rd month of hemodialysis therapy were 1.81 (1.74-1.88), 1.79 (1.72-1.86), and 1.34 (1.27-1.40), respectively. The standardized mortality ratio reached prevalent mortality only by the 7th month. No survival advantage for African Americans existed in the first 6 months. Patients with low albumin <3.5 g/dl had the highest proportion of infection-related deaths while patients with higher albumin levels had higher cardiovascular deaths including 76% of deaths during the first 3 months. Use of catheter as vascular access and hypoalbuminemia <3.5 g/dl explained 34% (17-54%) and 33% (19-45%) of all deaths in the first 90 days, respectively.

Conclusions: Incident hemodialysis patients have the highest mortality during the first 6 months including 80% higher death risk in the first 2 months. The presence of a central venous catheter and hypoalbuminemia <3.5 g/dl each explain one third of all deaths in the first 90 days.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / mortality
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infections / mortality
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / ethnology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Dialysis / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data