Black men most at risk of kidney, cardiovascular disease

African Americans are less likely to have life-threatening complication under control, new study finds

Among people diagnosed with kidney disease and high blood pressure, African-American men are least likely to have their blood pressure under control, putting them at risk of life-threatening complications, according to a study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official publication of the National Kidney Foundation.

The study included more than 10,000 people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and high blood pressure, which can worsen CKD. Some research suggests that controlling high blood pressure may be the most important step in slowing the progression of CKD.

"African-Americans with CKD progress more quickly to kidney failure, at which point they must receive a kidney transplant or regular dialysis to survive," says lead author O. Kenrik Duru, M.D. of the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. "These findings suggest that their higher risk of kidney failure may stem, at least in part, from higher rates of uncontrolled high blood pressure."

Furthermore, this finding suggests a way of protecting this vulnerable group from complications. "If African-American men are more likely to develop kidney failure because they are more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, treating their high blood pressure more aggressively may also protect their kidneys," adds Allan J. Collins, MD, study co-author and past president, National Kidney Foundation.

Research has shown that African-Americans with CKD progress five times more quickly to end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, than Caucasians. The investigators in the current report found that among people in early stages of CKD who also had high blood pressure, African-American men were least likely to have their blood pressure under control. Among people in later stages of CKD, both men and women of African descent were less likely than Caucasian men and women to have their high blood pressure under control.

"These findings propose new opportunities to eliminate health disparities in people most vulnerable to CKD," says Dr. Collins. "Treating high blood pressure aggressively in people with CKD could protect thousands - if not millions- of people from the life-threatening complication of kidney failure."