September 15, 2009

Early Warning for a Deadly Kidney Disease

By Kelley Luckstein

Carol Johnson, an otherwise healthy woman in her 60s, was at her wits’ end. Despite a good diet and regular exercise, she was gaining weight — 20-plus pounds. Her blood pressure was too high, even though she was taking three drugs for it. And she didn’t feel well.


Since 2005, two doctors had told her she had a high blood level of creatinine, a product of muscle breakdown that can suggest abnormal kidney function. Yet neither doctor could figure out why. Even repeated kidney infections failed to alert her current doctor to the real problem.


Then, in March 2008, Mrs. Johnson, a retired special-education teacher living in Independence, Mo., noticed an advertisement for a free screening test offered by the National Kidney Foundation.


The test, part of a nationwide program called KEEP (for Kidney Early Evaluation Program), can serve as an early warning sign for a disease that often shows no symptoms until patients are on the verge of kidney failure


Belgian nephrologists writing in The Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2006 reported that physicians were often unaware of the severity of kidney malfunction because they relied solely on a creatinine measure. They noted that as many as four out of five patients with chronic kidney disease were referred to a specialist for treatment late in the disease, within six months of needing dialysis or a transplant.


NY Times by Jane Brody, 09/14/09

Tags: Nephrology, Nephrology

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