Diabetes with kidney disease a top killer: What you can do

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A new study sheds light on a complication of diabetes that claims more lives than known. In a new study, researchers were surprised to learn found kidney disease accounts for the majority of deaths among diabetics.

For their study researchers looked at 10-year mortality rates among 15,046 US adults with and without kidney disease.

Maryam Afkarian, MD, PhD (University of Washington) and her colleagues were seeking an answer to how much kidney disease contributes to risk of dying for patients with diabetes. The research team wanted to see how diabetes that has been diagnosed in one in 10 Americans affects death rates; specifically related to kidney disease.

People who suffer from type 2 diabetes are at risk of earlier death than people without the disease. They are also known to suffer from high rates of heart disease.

The purpose of the study was to see just how much kidney disease contributes to early demise.

Among diabetics, 42.3% had kidney disease. The rate was 9.4% for non-diabetics.

What the researchers found was unexpected.

“To our surprise, we found that even in the medically complex patients with type 2 diabetes, kidney disease is a very powerful predictor of premature death,” said Dr. Afkarian in a press release.

Mortality rates for people with diabetes and kidney disease was 31.1 percent compared to 11.5 percent for those with diabetes without kidney disease.

Non-diabetics with normal kidney function and mortality rate of 7.7 percent.

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How to protect kidney function

Not everyone with diabetes is destined for kidney problems, but without care, the chances are higher that you'll develop a problem.

Taking care with keeping blood sugar levels in check, complying with medications, knowing your blood pressure and keeping it within normal limits and maintaining a normal BMI are all factors that can ensure healthy kidney function.

You should make sure to limit salt intake and engage in regular exercise and activity.

Keep your doctor appointments, especially for monitoring of blood work and urine tests for diabetic nephropathy that is characterized by high levels of protein in the urine.

It’s also important to know kidney damage associated with can occur years before symptoms manifest.

Smoking and younger onset of diabetes – type 1, before age 20 – also put patients at higher risk.

Symptoms include fatigue, lower extremity swelling, loss of appetite and nausea that might be accompanied by vomiting.

The finding highlights a complication of diabetes that can be prevented. Understanding that kidney disease is a major risk for early death, found in the analysis, can help clinicians and patients focus on prevention.

American Society of Nephrology (ASN) News
January, 2013
doi: 10.1681/2012070718

Resource:
NIH: MedlinePlus
Diabetes and Kidney Disease

Image credit: Morguefile

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