Comparison of Patients with Hospital-Recorded Nephrotic Syndrome and Patients with Nephrotic Proteinuria and Hypoalbuminemia: A Nationwide Study in Denmark

Søren Viborg Vestergaard*, Henrik Birn, Anette Tarp Hansen, Mette Nørgaard, Dorothea Nitsch, Christian Fynbo Christiansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Registry-based studies of nephrotic syndrome (NS) may only include a subset of patients with biochemical features of NS. To address this, we compared patients with laboratory-recorded nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia to patients with hospital-recorded NS.

Methods: We identified adult patients with first-time hospital-recorded NS (inpatients, outpatients, or emergency-room visitors) in the Danish National Patient Registry and compared them with adults with first-time recorded nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia in Danish laboratory databases during 2004-2018, defining the date of admission or laboratory findings as the index date. We characterized these cohorts by demographics, comorbidity, medication use, and laboratory and histopathologic findings.

Results: We identified 1139 patients with hospital-recorded NS and 5268 patients with nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia; of these, 760 patients were identified in both cohorts. Within 1 year of the first record of nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia, 18% had recorded hospital diagnoses indicating the presence of NS, and 87% had diagnoses reflecting any kind of nephropathy. Among patients identified with nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia, their most recent eGFR was substantially lower (median of 35 versus 61 ml/min per 1.73 m2), fewer underwent kidney biopsies around the index date (34% versus 61%), and the prevalence of thromboembolic disease (25% versus 17%) and diabetes (39% versus 18%) was higher when compared with patients with hospital-recorded NS.

Conclusions: Patients with nephrotic proteinuria and hypoalbuminemia are five-fold more common than patients with hospital-recorded NS, and they have a lower eGFR and more comorbidities. Selective and incomplete recording of NS may be an important issue when designing and interpreting studies of risks and prognosis of NS.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1482-1490
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 by the American Society of Nephrology.


  • Adult
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Hypoalbuminemia/epidemiology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome/complications
  • Proteinuria/diagnosis


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