Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Palliative and end-of-life care issues in chronic kidney disease

Combs, Sara A.a; Davison, Sara N.b

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2015 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 14–19
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000110

Purpose of review Patients with progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD) have high morbidity, mortality, and symptom burden. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and congestive heart failure (CHF) often contribute to these burdens and should be considered when providing recommendations for care. This review aims to summarize recent literature relevant to the provision of palliative and end-of-life care for patients with progressive CKD and specifically highlights issues relevant to those with CVD and CHF.

Recent findings Dialysis may not benefit older, frail patients with progressive CKD, especially those with other comorbidities. Patients managed conservatively (i.e., without dialysis) may live as long as patients who elect to start dialysis, with better preservation of function and quality of life and with fewer acute care admissions. Decisions regarding dialysis initiation should be made on an individual basis, keeping in mind each patient's goals, comorbidities, and underlying functional status. Conservative management of progressive kidney disease is frequently not offered but is likely to benefit many older, frail patients with comorbidities such as CHF and CVD.

Summary A palliative approach to the care of many patients with progressive CKD is essential to ensuring they receive appropriate quality care.

aDepartment of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

bDivision of Nephrology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Correspondence to Sara N. Davison, MD, MHSc, Division of Nephrology and Immunology, University of Alberta, 11-107 Clinical Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G3, Canada. Fax: +1 780 407 7878; e-mail:

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.