Clinical and patient-reported trajectories at end-of-life in older patients with advanced CKD

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2023 Oct 31;38(11):2494-2502. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfad091.


Background: We explore longitudinal trajectories of clinical indicators, patient-reported outcomes, and hospitalizations, in the years preceding death in a population of older patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Methods: The EQUAL study is a European observational prospective cohort study with an incident eGFR <20 ml/min per 1.73 m2 and ≥65 years of age. The evolution of each clinical indicator was explored using generalized additive models during the 4 years preceding death.

Results: We included 661 decedents with a median time to death of 2.0 years (IQR 0.9-3.2). During the years preceding death, eGFR, Subjective Global Assessment score, and blood pressure declined, with accelerations seen at 6 months preceding death. Serum hemoglobin, hematocrit, cholesterol, calcium, albumin, and sodium values declined slowly during follow-up, with accelerations observed between 6 and 12 months preceding death. Physical and mental quality of life declined linearly throughout follow-up. The number of reported symptoms was stable up to 2 years prior to death, with an acceleration observed at 1 year prior to death. The rate of hospitalization was stable at around one hospitalization per person year, increasing exponentially at 6 months preceding death.

Conclusions: We identified clinically relevant physiological accelerations in patient trajectories that began ∼6 to 12 months prior to death, which are likely multifactorial in nature, but correlate with a surge in hospitalizations. Further research should focus on how to effectively use this knowledge to inform patient and family expectations, to benefit the planning of (end-of-life) care, and to establish clinical alert systems.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; end-of-life; mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Death
  • Disease Progression
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / epidemiology