Kidney Disease + Anemia = Higher Stroke Risk Than Either Alone

New York, NY
October 30, 2003

A new report shows that kidney disease appears to increase the risk of stroke, and adding anemia to the mix could raise a person’s stroke risk even further.

“Previous research has also shown that people with kidney disease may have a higher-than-average risk of stroke. This new study suggests that kidney disease patients who also have anemia can help themselves stay healthy by keeping their anemia under control,” says Brian Pereira, MD, president of the National Kidney Foundation.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 20 million Americans - one in nine adults - have chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, many people afflicted with kidney problems also develop anemia, a condition in which their blood contains too few oxygen-carrying red blood cells. For instance, anemia can result when the kidneys fail to make enough of the hormone that encourages the production of red blood cells.

During the recent study, the investigators followed a group of almost 14,000 adults for nine years, and discovered that people with kidney disease were 80 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than were those with healthy kidneys.

However, when the researchers divided kidney disease patients according to whether or not they had anemia, they found that non-anemic kidney patients did not have a significantly higher risk of stroke than non-anemic people with no kidney disease. In contrast, among people with anemia, those who were also diagnosed with kidney disease had a more than five-fold increased risk of experiencing stroke during the study period.

The researchers obtained these findings after removing the influence of other factors that can cause stroke, including high blood pressure and smoking.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products out of the blood. Left untreated, chronic kidney disease may ultimately lead to kidney failure, requiring transplant or dialysis for survival. The number of kidney failure patients is expected to more than double to 650,000 by 2010 at a projected cost to taxpayers of $28 billion.

For more information about anemia and kidney disease, contact the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.