13% of Americans Have Kidney Disease

Diabetes, High Blood Pressure Behind Rise in Chronic Kidney Disease

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on November 06, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 6, 2007 -- Thirteen percent of Americans now have chronic kidneydisease, up 3% over the last decade, mostly due to higher rates of diabetes andhigh blood pressure.

Kidney disease ranks low on America's radar screen. But it's a major killer.While many patients with chronic kidney disease go on to die of kidney failure,many more of these patients die of heart disease.

Johns Hopkins University researcher Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, and colleaguesanalyzed data from the two most recent National Health and NutritionExamination Surveys (NHANES). These CDC surveys collected data -- includingphysical examinations with blood and urine tests -- on 15,488 Americans from1988 to 1994 and on 13,233 Americans from 1999 to 2004.

According to their conservative analyses, 10% of Americans had chronickidney disease between 1988 and 1994 and 13% of Americans had chronic kidneydisease between 1999 and 2004.

Driving the increase is a dramatic rise in diabetes and high blood pressure. Each of theseconditions can lead to kidney disease.

A recent CDC report on the same NHANES data suggested that 17% of Americanshave chronic kidney disease. Coresh and colleagues came up with a lower numberbecause the CDC analysis included people with earlier signs of kidney disease,while the Coresh team counted only those with persistent kidney disease.

Even the lower number is of great concern.

"The high prevalence of chronic kidney disease overall, and particularlyamong older individuals and persons with [high blood pressure] and diabetes,suggests that chronic kidney disease needs to be a central part of futurepublic health planning," Coresh and colleagues conclude.

Highlighting the problem is a "Health Trends" report from QuestDiagnostics, a national network of laboratories and patient-servicecenters.

The report, based on Quest Diagnostics test results from 2005 to 2006, showsthat the majority of patients with diabetes and/or high blood pressure do notregularly get an inexpensive test to check for protein in the urine, an earlysign of kidney disease.

"More aggressive monitoring in the early stages of kidney disease allowsmore time for evaluation and intervention," Joseph A. Vassalotti, MD, chiefmedical officer of the National Kidney Foundation, says in a news release."We need to work together to promote implementation of early detection andtreatment of chronic kidney disease."

Early treatment for kidney disease can protect against permanent kidneydamage. And at the first sign of kidney disease, people should take steps tocut their risk of heart disease.

The Coresh study appears in the Nov. 7 issue of The Journal of theAmerican Medical Association.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Coresh, J. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 7, 2007; vol: 298 pp. 2038-2047. Quest Diagnostics Health Trends Report 2007, An Analysis of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the U.S., Nov. 6, 2007. News release, Quest Diagnostics.

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