Worrying: A patient undergoing dailysis at a hospital in Dubai. High incidence of diabetes has led to a increase in kidney failure patients in the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: About 1,600 patients are undergoing dialysis in the UAE, with 240 being added each year to the list of people suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD), an expert told XPRESS.

Dr Mohammad Hassan, chief of nephrology at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), said dialysis incidence and growth in the country may be par with the global rate — 370 CKD patients per million people — out of which 70 or 80 will die within the year. But the worrying factor is the high incidence of diabetes in the UAE, where one in five suffers from the metabolic disorder.

“In the UAE, the rate of growth (of patients on dialysis) is 10 to 15 per cent per year,” he said.

Risk factor

“Diabetes is a key risk factor for kidney failure, which eventually requires dialysis or kidney transplant,” he said.

Statistically, out of those suffering from Type 1 diabetes, about 33 per cent will eventually develop a chronic kidney disease within 15 years, said Dr Hassan.

“Unfortunately, most of those with chronic kidney diseases die from cardiovascular diseases even before reaching dialysis.”

In Abu Dhabi alone, the population undergoing hemodialysis (a process to remove toxins from the blood stream) currently stands at 740 (there are an estimated 860 more in the other emirates), while there are another 40 patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis (home-based treatment using a fluid that goes inside the patient’s abdominal cavity through a permanent tube). Emiratis account for 40 per cent of those undergoing dialysis while expats account for 60 per cent, he said.

Dialysis costs up to Dh65,000 per patient per year, which could go up to Dh100,000 if frequent admission to hospital is added, said Dr Hassan.

Kidney transplant is the treatment of choice for patients with kidney failure as the survival rate is high (99 per cent in the first year) and because dialysis is associated with early mortality and a host of medical problems — fluid imbalances, muscle cramps, bone diseases and infection. But a key challenge is looking for matching donors, he said.

There are around 1,100 kidney transplant recipients in the UAE today, though many of them had their transplant performed overseas. Some 40 patients have undergone kidney transplants at SKMC’ kidney transplant centre which opened in 2008, he said.

Dr Hassan said: “Kidney disease is a lifestyle disease. Only a tiny minority of patients suffer due to familial kidney disease. It means most people could avoid kidney problems if they also avoid the risk factors — obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension,” he said.


Kidney Care

Drink plenty of fluids; eight cups per day (250cc per cup)

Avoid taking medications without consulting a physician, specially painkillers

Have an active lifestyle

Control diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol (if you already have them)

Source: SKMC