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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Reduced incidence of end stage renal disease among the elderly in Denmark: an observational study

James G Heaf1* and Sonja Wehberg2

Author Affiliations

1 Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Graevlingestien 9, 2880, Bagsvaerd, Denmark

2 Research Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, Centre for National Clinical Databases – South, University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

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BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:131  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-131

Published: 3 October 2012



A number of studies during the nineties have shown that antihypertensive therapy, particularly using RAS blockade, can reduce uremia progression, and ESRD incidence.


National incidence rates were studied of end stage renal disease (ESRD) for Denmark between 1990 and 2011, and of national prescription of antihypertensive drugs between 1995 and 2010, in order to investigate whether prescription rates had changed, and whether the expected change in ESRD had materialized. The Danish Nephrology Registry (DNR) is incident and comprehensive. Incidence rates were classified according to renal diagnosis.


ESRD incidence was constant for age groups <60 years. Incidence rates rose during the nineties for all cohorts >60 years. Since 2001 rates for subjects 60–70 years have fallen from 400 ppm/yr to 234, and since 2002 for subjects 70–80 years from 592 to 398. The incidence of patients >80 years has increased to 341. The falling incidence for patients 60–80 years was distributed among a number of diagnoses. Since 1995 national antihypertensive drug therapy has increased from 24.5 defined daily doses (DDD)/citizen/yr to 101.3, and the proportion using renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockade from 34 to 58%.


This national study has shown a reduction in actively treated ESRD incidence among patients aged 60–80 years. It is possible that this is the result of increased antihypertensive prescription rates, particularly with RAS blockade. If it is assumed that therapeutic intervention is the cause of the observed reduced incidence, ESRD incidence has been reduced by 33.8 ppm/yr, prevalence by 121 ppm, and ESRD expenditure by 6 €/citizen/yr.

ESRD; Epidemiology; Uremia progression; Hypertension; Antihypertensive therapy; ACE inhibition