Characteristics of Elderly Patients with Diabetes and End-Stage Renal Disease


Address correspondence to: Alexander S. Goldfarb-Rumyantzev, MD, PhD, Division of Nephrology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 185 Pilgrim Road, FA-832, Boston, MA 02215, Tel.: +1-617-632-9880; Fax: +1-617-667-5276, or e-mail:


Because of a combination of demographic and social factors, such as the aging of the population in general, increased incidence of diabetes, and more liberal criteria for renal replacement therapy initiation, the proportion of the end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients with diabetes who are considered elderly is currently the fastest growing segment of incident ESRD population. Despite the fast growth of this group, it is poorly characterized in current literature. In this review, we attempt to summarize the data available to date regarding demographic composition, outcomes, choice of renal replacement therapy, and other management issues including renal transplantation. There is significant evidence that the elderly diabetic patients might differ from the general dialysis population regarding renal replacement modality, vascular access for dialysis, and that guidelines addressing chronic kidney disease (CKD) issues such as nutrition and blood pressure may need modification in this ESRD subgroup. At the same time, other areas such as anemia and bone mineral metabolism have not been adequately studied. Lastly, despite lower rates of kidney transplantation in this population, it confers significant survival advantages, similar to that seen in younger populations. As the fastest growing group in the incident ESRD population, these patients have issues related to clinical management, which represent very important areas for future research.