Kidney :: Kidney disease opens door to heart disease, other leading killers

People with chronic kidney disease are significantly more likely to have other, life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, according to new findings from a nationwide screening program by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) published in the March issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

The report is released in conjunction with the 2nd annual “World Kidney Day” observance in recognition of the worldwide significance of kidney disease as a public health problem.

In the survey of people at risk of developing kidney problems, those who were already diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, or CKD, were also at increased risk of having poorly controlled blood sugar, a hallmark of diabetes. Compared to the general population, people at risk of CKD were more likely to be overweight, and have high blood pressure. The survey was conducted through NKF’s Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), a free kidney health detection program designed to help people at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) receive early diagnosis and treatment.

“People at risk of CKD are more than twice as likely as people who are not at risk to have high blood pressure,” says Allan Collins, MD, president of the NKF. “Among people at risk, 27% of those already diagnosed with CKD have heart disease, the nation’s top killer, relative to only 15% of people at risk of, but not yet diagnosed with, kidney problems,” he adds. “These findings suggest that CKD can multiply the risk of other devastating illnesses, demonstrating the importance of diagnosing and managing the disease in those who are most vulnerable.”

The survey included 55,000 people who are at highest risk of developing kidney disease — those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of these conditions or kidney disease. The results show many people with CKD don’t know they have it: 29% of participants had kidney disease, yet only 2% were aware that they had a kidney problem.

“These findings demonstrate how important simple screening tests are for people who have a higher risk of kidney failure,” says Collins. “These tests can diagnose kidney disease in its early stages, when treatment is most effective, saving countless lives.”

Twenty million Americans — 1 in 9 adults — suffer from some degree of chronic kidney disease (CKD) — and another 20 million are at risk. The National Kidney Foundation will offer free kidney screenings through KEEP for people at risk for CKD in cities across the country on World Kidney Day — March 8. For locations and schedules, visit and to learn more about CKD risk, visit

World Kidney Day is sponsored by Abbott, Affymax, Amgen, Genzyme, Ortho Biotech, Quest Diagnostics, Roche and Wyeth.

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