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Association of thyroid status prior to transition to end-stage renal disease with early dialysis mortality.



Advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, including those receiving dialysis, have a high prevalence of thyroid dysfunction. Although hypothyroidism is associated with higher death risk in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients, no studies have examined whether thyroid status in the pre-ESRD period impacts mortality after dialysis initiation.


Among US veterans with CKD identified from the national Veterans Affairs database that transitioned to dialysis over the period from October 2007 to September 2011, we examined the association of pre-ESRD serum thyrotropin (TSH) levels averaged over the 1-year pre-dialysis ('prelude') period with all-cause mortality in the first year following dialysis initiation.


Among 15 335 patients in the 1-year prelude cohort, TSH levels >5.0 mIU/L were associated with higher mortality in expanded case-mix Cox models (reference: TSH 0.5-5.0 mIU/L): adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20 (1.07-1.33). Similar findings were observed for TSH >5.0 mIU/L and mortality in the 2- and 5-year cohorts: aHRs (95% CI) 1.11 (1.02-1.21) and 1.15 (1.07-1.24), respectively. Analyses of finer gradations of TSH in the 1-year prelude cohort demonstrated that incrementally higher levels >5.0 mIU/L were associated with increasingly higher mortality in expanded case-mix models (reference: TSH 0.5-3.0 mIU/L): aHRs (95% CI) 1.18 (1.04-1.33) and 1.28 (1.03-1.59) for TSH levels >5.0-10.0 mIU/L and >10.0 mIU/L, respectively. In the 2- and 5-year cohorts, mortality associations persisted most strongly for those with TSH >10.0 mIU/L, particularly after laboratory covariate adjustment.


Among new ESRD patients, there is a dose-dependent relationship between higher pre-ESRD TSH levels >5.0 mIU/L and post-ESRD mortality. Further studies are needed to determine the impact of TSH reduction with thyroid hormone supplementation in this population.

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