U.S. blacks five times as likely as whites to progress to kidney failure

It's long been known that black Americans are four to five times as likely as white Americans to suffer from kidney disease that is severe enough to require dialysis or transplantation. Now a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) shows that rates of early kidney disease do not differ between the two groups, but that blacks with early disease are five times as likely as whites to progress to the severe stage that requires dialysis or transplantation. The findings suggest that black Americans with early kidney disease require much more aggressive treatment than has been commonly practiced.

"Black Americans make up a third of the dialysis population, but only about a tenth of the overall population. But nobody has ever looked at whether blacks have more early kidney disease than whites," says Chi-yuan Hsu, MD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF. "What we found is that the two groups have the same amount of kidney disease, but if someone has early disease and they are white, their chances of going to dialysis are one in 100 per year. But if they are black, their chance is five times higher."

The study appears in November's Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Senior investigator in the study is Michael Shlipak, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at SFVAMC and UCSF.

In the United States, the two major risk factors for kidney disease are uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). Early kidney disease, also called chronic renal insufficiency, is a gradually progressing disease that if left untreated can result in end-stage renal disease, the point at which kidneys fail. Without a kidney transplant or dialysis -- a blood-filtering process that must be performed several times a week -- a person suffering from end-stage kidney disease will die. Although

Contact: Liese Greensfelder
University of California - San Francisco

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