Survey insights help deepen our understanding of patients' experience of anaemia in chronic kidney disease to address this critical unmet need

At AstraZeneca, we know how important first-hand patient insights are to better understand how to address the critical unmet needs for people living with a disease or condition. We wanted to learn more about patients’ awareness and knowledge of anaemia in CKD so this year we commissioned a new survey of 500 people living with CKD in China and 500 people living with CKD in the United States (US).1

Why should anaemia in CKD demand our attention?

Anaemia in CKD is a potentially serious condition characterised by low haemoglobin levels (Hb).2 It is well-established that anaemia in severe CKD increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hospitalisation and mortality if not effectively managed.3 Common symptoms that manifest in CKD patients with anaemia include fatigue, weakness and paleness.4

Both the US and China represent regions where there are high unmet needs in CKD and anaemia in CKD, which is currently estimated to affect 4.8 million people in the US.5 Similarly, in China, 50% of non-dialysis, early stage CKD patients, and over 90% of dialysis CKD patients in China experience anaemia in CKD (based on data in recent studies).

The survey evaluated patients’ perceptions of anaemia in CKD and assessed how and where they receive information about the condition, including how reliable they felt these sources were.

Commenting on our rationale for undertaking this survey, Dr Ian Sabir, Head of Medical Affairs, Cardio-Renal, AstraZeneca, said: “We recognise the burden that treating cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases in isolation can have on patients and healthcare systems worldwide. That’s why our approach is to embrace the full cardio-renal and metabolic picture. Surveys such as this help us to better understand every aspect of the kidney disease patient journey.”

A big impact on daily life, but not all patients have the information they need Notable findings from the results include:

• Respondents attributed serious physical side effects to their anaemia in CKD, including lack of energy (64% in China and 84% in the US), and feeling ill (46% in China and 31% in the US).1

• People with anaemia in CKD experience a strong negative emotional impact, notably sadness (54% in China and 41% in the US) and nervousness about living with their condition (47% in China and 24% in the US), and concern about their condition worsening (36% in China and 48% in the US).1 Thirty percent of Chinese respondents also worry about death because of their anaemia in CKD.
• Many respondents struggled to recall key information about their anaemia in CKD; 63% of US respondents and 73% of Chinese respondents didn’t know or couldn’t recall their Hb levels.

• Many patients did not correctly identify the symptoms of anaemia. This included paleness (45% in China and 46% in the US), headaches (77% in China and 69% in the US) or difficulty breathing (82% in China and 66% in the US) as common symptoms associated with severe anaemia in CKD.1,7,8  

• Doctors play a key role in empowering patients to manage anaemia in CKD. The data found that 53% of US and 42% of Chinese respondents felt more confident about the management of their condition after their doctor had spoken to them about treatment options.1

•  Respondents were most likely to look for information about anaemia in CKD either online (52% in the US and 36% in China) or on social media (32% in the US and 34% in China).1 However, a minority of patients trusted information found online (only 21% in the US and 22% in China) and via social media (only 14% in the US and only 22% in China) compared to other information sources.1  

How might we collaboratively improve patients’ understanding of anaemia in CKD?  Being able to appreciate current levels of patients’ awareness and understanding of the true emotional and physical impacts of anaemia in CKD is an important first step towards improved treatment and care of CKD patients. Together, these findings highlight an opportunity to increase support, awareness and understanding of the long-term risks of anaemia in CKD for patients and healthcare professionals. 

Commenting on the findings, Nicolas Jose Guzman, M.D., Director, Nephrology Clinical Research; Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism, AstraZeneca, said, I have worked in the field of nephrology for over 30 years. Whilst protecting CKD patients has always been at the heart of nephrology practice, I do believe there is an opportunity to empower patients to ask the right questions and help them to feel confident about their CKD and its complications.”


1 AstraZeneca. 2018. Data on File. REF-47254

2National Kidney Foundation. “Managing Anemia When You Have Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure.” 2014.

3  KDOQI Clinical Practice Guidelines and Clinical Practice Recommendations for Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease. Am J Kidney Dis. 2006 May;47(5):S1-S132.

4  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Anaemia in Chronic Kidney Disease.” 2014. Last Accessed 08 October 2018.

5  Stauffer Melissa E., Fan Tao. Prevalence of Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States.

PLOS ONE. 2014 Jan;9(1): e84943.

6  Li Ya, et al. Prevalence, awareness, and treatment of anemia in Chinese patients with nondialysis chronic kidney disease. Medicine. 2016 Jun;95(24): e3872.

7  National Kidney Foundation. “Anaemia and Chronic Kidney Disease.” 2016. Last Accessed 09 October 2018. 8National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Anaemia in Chronic Kidney Disease.” 2014. Last Accessed 08 October 2018.

Veeva ID: Z4-14288 

Date of next review: December 2020