Kidney Tests May Be Used To Predict Cardiovascular Health

A study published in Lancet Diabetesand Endocrinology has come to the conclusion that tests used to assess kidney function can also predict a patient’s risk for a stroke or heart attack.

Lead author of this study, Dr. Kunihiro Matsushita, commented on the results of this study.

“If health care providers have data on kidney damage and kidney function – which they often do – they should be using those data to better understand a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Two common tests that doctors use to see a patient’s kidney function are serum creatinine and an albumin test. Both of these tests are blood tests. In the creatinine test, kidney function is determined by seeing if the creatinine level is between 0.6 to 1.2 mg/dL. If the level is higher than 1.2 mg/dL, the kidneys are not functioning properly. The albumin test is used to see if the body is absorbing enough protein. Normal results are between 3.4 – 5.4 g/dL. An albumin test is used for more than just kidney function. When the results come back, the albumin test is used along with the creatinine test and a blood urea nitrogen test to assess if the kidneys are functioning properly. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is also looked at to see how the kidneys are filtering.

Normally, blood pressure tests and cholesterol levels are used when determining a patient’s risk for cardiovascular problems. In order to find a patient’s cholesterol level, blood tests need to be done. This blood work almost always includes the tests that were mentioned above. Dr. Matsushita talks about this information that is normally collected during routine blood work.

“This study tells us we could do even better with information that often times we are already collecting.”

This study used studies from the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium. The 637,315 participants had no history of cardiovascular disease. By looking at the eGFR and albumin, researchers were able to predict which patients would have cardiovascular problems.

As of now, researchers are not sure how kidney problems can be linked to heart problems. Dr. Matsushita believes that if a test shows the kidneys are not filtering properly, then the body will retain excess fluid. This excess fluid in the body can lead to heart problems. The authors of this study make a final statement on their results.

“In populations with chronic kidney disease, the simultaneous assessment of eGFR and [albuminuria] could facilitate improved classification of cardiovascular risk, supporting current guidelines for chronic kidney disease. Our results lend some support to also incorporating eGFR and [albuminuria] into assessments of cardiovascular risk in the general population.”

If you are a patient that has a history of kidney problems, talk with your doctor about the potential for cardiac problems in the future.

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