Rate of Kidney Disease Jumps by 30%
The estimated number of American adults living with chronic kidney disease increases from 20 million to 26 million
An astonishing 26 million American adults are estimated to be living with kidney disease, and most are completely unaware of their condition, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This number increases the most recent estimates of the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) by 30%, from 10% of the US population (1988-1994) to 13.1% (1999-2004). The data from 1988-1994 was the source of the statistic that 20 million American adults have CKD.
“Our study demonstrates chronic kidney disease in the United States is more common than previously appreciated. However, less than 1 in 10 individuals with kidney disease is aware they have a problem,” said Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. “The medical community is starting to realize that chronic kidney disease is a serious concern, similar to the increased awareness of hypertension in the 1970s and diabetes in the 1990s.”
“We at the National Kidney Foundation interpret this increase in the rate of CKD as a call to action for doctors, people most at risk, and their families,” says Allan J. Collins, MD, FACP, President, National Kidney Foundation.
“The low level of awareness of CKD is challenging the National Kidney Foundation to reach out to individuals with diabetes and high blood pressure, who are at increased risk,” says Joseph A. Vassalotti, MD, Chief Medical Officer, National Kidney Foundation
In people with CKD, the kidneys are less able to perform vital functions that help maintain overall health, including filtering wastes and excess fluids from the blood. People at increased risk include those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and a family history of kidney disease. Minority groups and older adults are also at increased risk.
Estimates of the rate of CKD are based on data collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), which measure health risks in a representative sample of non-institutionalized American adults.
Between 1994 and 2004, the rate of Americans with mild, moderate and severe CKD all increased. The study could not estimate the number of individuals with CKD in stage 5 – the most severe form of the disease, kidney failure, in which people need dialysis or transplant to survive. Also concerning, the authors found that the majority of people with CKD didn’t realize they had it.
“Through the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), which provides free kidney screening for those at increased risk, the foundation plans to test 4,000 American adults each month. Early detection of CKD allows more time for evaluation and intervention,” says Vassalotti.
“Americans and their physicians should be aware that chronic kidney disease is common, has treatable components, and its progression can be slowed substantially. Blood pressure control with agents that protect the kidney, blood sugar control, and avoiding medications toxic to the kidneys are the most important factors for patients with kidney disease to be educated about,” said study co-author Andrew S. Levey, MD, Chief of Nephrology at Tufts-New England Medical Center and Work Group Chair of the NKF’s KDOQI Clinical Practice Guidelines for Chronic Kidney Disease: Evaluation, Classification, and Stratification.
Some facts about CKD:
- CKD can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications. Indeed, the most common cause of death among people with CKD is cardiovascular disease.
- In the U.S., the two leading causes of kidney failure– which requires regular dialysis or transplantation to sustain life– are diabetes and high blood pressure. When these two diseases are controlled by treatment, the associated chronic kidney disease can often be prevented or slowed down. Healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing excess weight and regular exercise, often help to control — and may even help to prevent — high blood pressure and complications from diabetes.
- Kidney disease may be silent in the early stages. It’s important for doctors to include blood and urine tests that check the kidneys as part of regular medical checkups. Early detection and treatment may help to prevent chronic kidney disease from worsening.
For more information on kidney disease visit www.kidney.org/kidneyDisease