Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one component of a spectrum of chronic disease in Aboriginal Australians. CKD is marked by albuminuria, which predicts renal failure and nonrenal natural death. Rates vary greatly by community and region and are much higher in remote areas. This reflects the heterogeneous characteristics and circumstances of Aboriginal people. CKD is multideterminant, and early-life influences (notably low birth weight), infections (including poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis), metabolic/hemodynamic parameters, and epigenetic/genetic factors probably contribute. CKD is associated intimately with cardiovascular risk. Albuminuria progresses over time, with a high incidence of new onset of pathologic levels of albuminuria in all age groups. All the usual morphologic findings are found in renal biopsy specimens. However, glomerular enlargement is notable in individuals from remote regions, but not those living closer to population centers. Glomerulomegaly probably represents compensatory hypertrophy caused by low nephron number, which probably underlies the accentuated susceptibility to renal disease. In the last decade, health care services have been transformed to accommodate systematic chronic disease surveillance and management. After a relentless increase for 3 decades, rates of Aboriginal people starting renal replacement therapy, as well as chronic disease deaths, appear to be stabilizing in some regions. Official endorsement of these system changes, plus ongoing reductions in the incidence of low birth weight and infections, hold promise for continued better outcomes.
Copyright © 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.