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Age 60 or Older? You Need Yearly Kidney Disease Test

urine cup

Six out of 10 Americans will develop kidney disease in their lifetime, according to a new study, and the National Kidney Foundation says there's an easy way to catch problems early: A simple pee-in-the-cup test once a year if you're age 60 or older.

Data analyzed by researchers with Johns Hopkins University and published this week in the American Journal of Kidney Disease, estimates that 59.1 percent of Americans - about 135.8 million people - will develop moderate kidney disease during their life.  That's a higher risk than that of developing heart disease, diabetes or late-stage cancer, which is about four in 10.

In light of the study, the kidney foundation has changed its longstanding screening recommendation, which had been based on people at high risk because of family history and other health problems, not simply age.

The foundation now says adults age 60-plus, as well as those with high blood pressure or diabetes, should get a simple urine albumin test annually to detect kidney damage at an early stage, when it can be slowed with lifestyle changes and medication.

Foundation president Beth Piraino, M.D., called it a win-win for everyone involved.

"The test is easy and cheap and can save you from serious harm. Why wouldn't you do it?" she told Forbes.

Kidney disease in its later stages, she added, can be "physically devastating and financially overwhelming."

In addition, kidney disease screening provides a clue to the health of your heart and entire cardiovascular system, lead study author Josef Coresh, M.D., professor of epidemiology and medicine at Johns Hopkins, told Forbes.  "Elevated protein in the urine is a red flag that you're at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other conditions that tend to occur along with kidney disease."

The urine test screening can be added to the other tests your doctor performs at your annual physical, Coresh said.

The researchers also found that women's lifetime risk of kidney disease is higher, primarily because women live longer.  African-Americans, however, develop kidney disease at a younger age, and have a higher lifetime risk of end-stage kidney disease, when dialysis or kidney transplantation is needed, the study found.




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