The first study to carefully characterize the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) across Europe found considerable variation. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

Katharina Brück, MD (Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and her colleagues, on behalf of the European CKD Burden Consortium, collected data from 19 general-population studies from 13 European countries. They increased the comparability of CKD prevalence across studies in several ways, for example by using the same definition for CKD and by using calculations to correct for different age distributions in the various regions.

The investigators found substantial variation in the prevalence CKD across countries, ranging from 3% to 17%. This large variation appears to be due to factors other than the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, which are well-known risk factors for CKD. Possible explanations might relate to differences in environmental and lifestyle factors, public health policies, and genetic influences.

“Our results may be used to guide future projections of the CKD burden in Europe and thereby help estimate the growing demand for CKD services that the ageing population will likely create,” said Brück. “Identification of countries with a relatively low or high CKD prevalence will guide the medical community and policy makers where to focus prevention and disease management strategies.”