New Test Identifies People at Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease

Over 200,000 people in the United States are affected by acute kidney injury (AKI) every year, with an additional 13 million people across the world also experiencing it. Acute kidney injury means that the kidneys are suddenly and randomly unable to filter waste from the blood. About one-fifth of those affected by AKI develop chronic kidney disease (CKD). This disease is progressive and typically results in the patient requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant, which are both very expensive and can be difficult for the patient. Now there is a simple test that can identify those who are a higher risk of chronic kidney disease.

About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged. This damage gets progressively worse over time. As severity increases, the kidneys cannot effectively filter waste from the blood, which results in a buildup of waste, fluid, and electrolytes. About 26 million Americans are affected by CKD.

Symptoms of CKD include

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Stunted growth
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Liver diseases
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure

CKD is typically the result of another condition that damages the kidneys’ function. Conditions that can lead to chronic kidney disease are type 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, glomerulonephritis, interstitial nephritis, polycystic kidney disease, prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, recurrent kidney infections, and vesicoureteral reflux.

Doctors will perform a clinical evaluation, where they will search for the characteristic symptoms and ask patients for their medical history to find a diagnosis. They may confirm a diagnosis using a blood test, urine test, imaging test, or by testing the tissue of the kidneys. Once they have successfully diagnosed CKD, treatment is meant to manage symptoms, reduce complications, and slow the progression of the disease. Doctors may prescribe cholesterol medications, high blood pressure medications, anemia medications, diuretics, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphate binders. In the later stages of the disease, treatment includes dialysis and kidney transplants.

About the Test

This test identifies high levels of protein in the urine, as those with elevated levels are at a 150% higher risk of CKD. This excess protein is called proteinuria, and it can signal the early stages of chronic kidney disease. Testing for proteinuria is inexpensive and non-invasive, making it an easy way to evaluate the risk of CKD.

Testing for this disease not only helps to obtain an early diagnosis, but it also saves an enormous amount of money. Dialysis and kidney transplants, which are the only treatments for the later stages of the disease, are extremely expensive. An early diagnosis means earlier treatment, which can then slow the progression of the disease and help to avoid these expensive measures.

A study evaluated this test, and it found that 9% of 1,538 participants, who were equally divided between having AKI and not having it, had kidney disease progression after 4.7 years. 58 patients were in the end-stages of renal disease as well. The study concluded that those who were affected by proteinuria were 1.5 times more likely to experience disease progression.

The study confirms that the test is helpful in evaluating who will have chronic kidney disease, which is beneficial for early diagnosis and treatment. Patients can then be better educated about their condition, and they will be able to try to avoid severe progression of CKD.

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