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 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 U.S. population to 13.1%. "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. For more information, click here.
"We at the National Kidney Foundation interpret this increase in the rate of Chronic Kidney Disease 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. "Through the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), which provides free kidney screenings 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 Joseph A. Vassalotti, MD, NKF Chief Medical Officer.
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 failure. 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.
"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.