NASHVILLE—Elderly diabetics make up a growing proportion of new dialysis patients, data show.

In addition, these patients initiate dialysis at a younger age and with lower serum creatinine levels than nondiabetic elderly patients, which suggests that elderly diabetics have a higher level of residual renal function when they start dialysis, according to researchers.

Seth Wright, MD, and collaborators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, analyzed U.S. Renal Data System records of 45,325 elderly patients who started dialysis over a 10-year period (1995-2005). The group included 21,860 diabetics and 23,465 nondiabetics.

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The proportion of patients starting dialysis who were both elderly and diabetic rose from 8.7% in 1995 to 13% in 2005, according to findings presented at the National Kidney Foundation 2009 Spring Clinical Meetings. The mean age at dialysis initiation was 80.5 years for diabetics and 82 years for nondiabetics. The mean starting serum creatinine levels were 5.16 and 5.80 mg/dL, respectively.

The proportion of deaths from infection was significantly increased in diabetics (12.8% vs. 9.8% of deaths).