Epidemiology of cardiovascular death in kidney failure: An Australian and New Zealand cohort study using data linkage

Nephrology (Carlton). 2022 May;27(5):430-440. doi: 10.1111/nep.14020. Epub 2022 Jan 19.


Aim: Cardiovascular mortality risk evolves over the lifespan of kidney failure (KF), as patients develop comorbid disease and transition between treatment modalities. Absolute cardiovascular death rates would help inform clinical practice and health-care provision, but are not well understood across a continuum of dialysis and transplant states. We aimed to characterize cardiovascular death across the natural history of KF using a lifespan approach.

Methods: We performed a population-based cohort study of incident patients commencing kidney replacement therapy in Australia and New Zealand. Cardiovascular deaths were identified using data linkage to national death registers. We estimated the probability of death and kidney transplant using multi-state models, and calculated rates of graft failure and cardiovascular death across demographic factors and comorbidities.

Results: Among 60 823 incident patients followed over 381 874 person-years, 25% (8492) of deaths were from cardiovascular disease. At 15 years from treatment initiation, patients had a 15.2% probability of cardiovascular death without being transplanted, but only 2.3% probability of cardiovascular death post-transplant. Females had a 3% lower probability of cardiovascular death at 15 years (15.3% vs. 18.6%) but 4% higher probability of non-cardiovascular death (54.5% vs. 50.8%). Within the first year of dialysis, cardiovascular mortality peaked in the second month and showed little improvement across treatment era.

Conclusion: Despite improvements over time, cardiovascular death remains common in KF, particularly among the dialysis population and in the first few months of treatment. Multi-state models can provide absolute measures of cardiovascular mortality across both dialysis and transplant states.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; chronic; dialysis; kidney failure; mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / therapy
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects
  • Renal Insufficiency* / therapy