Aims/hypothesis: A previous study in Dutch dialysis patients showed no survival difference between patients with diabetes as primary renal disease and those with diabetes as a co-morbid condition. As this was not in line with our hypothesis, we aimed to verify these results in a larger international cohort of dialysis patients.
Methods: For the present prospective study, we used data from the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA) Registry. Incident dialysis patients with data on co-morbidities (n = 15,419) were monitored until kidney transplantation, death or end of the study period (5 years). Cox regression was performed to compare survival for patients with diabetes as primary renal disease, patients with diabetes as a co-morbid condition and non-diabetic patients.
Results: Of the study population, 3,624 patients (24%) had diabetes as primary renal disease and 1,193 (11%) had diabetes as a co-morbid condition whereas the majority had no diabetes (n = 10,602). During follow-up, 7,584 (49%) patients died. In both groups of diabetic patients mortality was higher compared with the non-diabetic patients. Mortality was higher in patients with diabetes as primary renal disease than in patients with diabetes as a co-morbid condition, adjusted for age, sex, country and malignancy (HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.10, 1.30). An analysis stratified by dialysis modality yielded similar results.
Conclusions/interpretation: Overall mortality was significantly higher in patients with diabetes as primary renal disease compared with those with diabetes as a co-morbid condition. This suggests that survival in diabetic dialysis patients is affected by the extent to which diabetes has induced organ damage.