Over the past decade the number of people with kidney failure doubled and the number starting dialysis or having a first kidney transplant increased by 50 percent, so that more than 400,000 Americans are now being treated for kidney failure at a cost of $25 billion annually. In contrast to these dramatic increases, the study also found that the number of people with earlier stages of kidney disease remained stable. About 7.4 million people have less than half the kidney function of a healthy young adult. Another 11.3 million have at least half of what's considered normal function, but they also have persistent protein in their urine, a sign of kidney disease. The researchers can't explain the paradox between stable prevalence of kidney disease and rising incidence of kidney failure, but they suggest that fewer patients may be dying and more may be progressing faster to dialysis.
"Given the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease, we need to increase awareness, diagnosis and treatment if we are going to reduce the rate of progression and complications. Most critical are control of diabetes and hypertension," said Josef Coresh, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of epidemiology, medicine and biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Coresh and his colleagues estimated awareness of chronic kidney disease among 4,101 people in the United States from 1999 to 2000 and compared disease prevalence in those years with that from 1988 to 1994, when 15,48
Contact: Mary Harris
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases