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  • Writer's pictureKidney Foundation of WNY

Kidney Month Brings Attention to Advances in Detection and Care

Kidney Foundation of WNY highlights new therapies and standards

 

During National Kidney Month in March, the Kidney Foundation of Western New York is spotlighting recent breakthroughs in kidney health. The foundation also emphasizes the importance of early detection, especially for people at increased risk of kidney disease.

 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects more than one in seven U.S. adults – about 35.5 million people. Kidney failure was the eighth leading cause of death nationwide in 2023 and is a major contributor to disability among U.S. adults.

 

New Medications

 

Treatment of kidney disease has advanced significantly in the past few years. Researchers have found pharmaceuticals intended for related health issues can protect kidney function.

 

Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. Several medications to control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes have been discovered to reduce the risk of kidney failure. Some of also reduce the risk of heart failure. These include drugs classed as SGLT2 inhibitors, NS-MRAs, and GLP-1 receptor agonists. SGLT2 inhibitors also surprised researchers by protecting kidney function in people with chronic kidney disease who are not diabetic.  

 

“In large trials, we observed groundbreaking success with those [SGLT2] medications in slowing down the progression of chronic kidney disease, to the extent of avoiding dialysis and the need for kidney transplantation," Dr. Naim Issa said in an interview with the Mayo Clinic News Network. “They are actually game changer medications that help us prevent the progression of chronic kidney disease,” he added.

 

Improved Diagnostics

 

Early detection of kidney problems is important to slowing disease progression and avoiding health complications. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is one of the main methods for detecting and treating kidney disease. Prior to 2021, most laboratories in the United States calculated eGFR using different adjustments for Black and non-Black patients, based on an incorrect assumption that Black people have a higher average muscle mass.

 

Accurate eGFR is important because the number is used in diagnosing kidney disease, selecting dosage for medications, and evaluating the need for kidney dialysis or transplant. Primary care providers use eGFR when deciding whether to refer a patient to a nephrologist, a doctor specializing in kidney care.  

 

The American Society of Nephrology and its partners created a task force to examine the issues and found that Black patients had worse outcomes for blood pressure control, nephrology referral, preparation for starting dialysis and receiving a transplant compared to white patients. In September 2021, they announced new standards and a race-free calculation for eGFR.  

 

Increases in Transplantation

 

Receiving a kidney transplant is considered the best treatment option for kidney failure. A number of factors can prevent a patient from being eligible for transplant, but the biggest limitation on kidney transplants is that not enough health organs are available.

 

Nearly 88,700 people in the US are currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, including more than 6,900 New York State residents.

 

In 2023, there were 27,329 kidney transplants in the US, the most ever. Most were made possible by people who had registered as organ donors or whose families approved donation. The record number also includes 6,288 kidneys that came from living donors.

 

The Kidney Foundation of Western New York provides information about kidney disease, treatment options and kidney donation online at www.kfwny.org and by phone at 716-529-4390. The foundation has health education events and awareness activities scheduled throughout March for National Kidney Month.

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