Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease, is one of the most costly and deadly complications of diabetes. The incidence of kidney disease is on the rise in the US due to the surge in cases of Type 2 diabetes. Kidney disease places a heavy financial burden on society. More than $2 billion is spent annually to treat kidney failure and many people who are on dialysis are unable to maintain steady employment.

Diabetic nephropathy is a major diabetes complication which is caused by the body's prolonged exposure to elevated glucose levels. The presence of elevated blood glucose levels over many years can injure the kidney's filtering mechanism as well as the absorption mechanism. The level of injury can be measured using two assessments: the amount of albumin in the the urine and the amount of creatinine in the blood.

Albumin is a protein found in the urine. The normal amount of albumin which can be detected in the first morning sample of urine is < 30mg per gram of creatinine. When kidney damage results from diabetes, the value increases. When the value reaches the range of 30-300mg, it is called microalbuminuria and is a sign of early kidney failure. When the vaue exceeds 300mg, it is called macroalbuminuria and signals severe kidney failure.

The most important thing you can do to prevent kidney damage is to keep your blood glucose levels under control. The DCCT study showed that people who kept tight control of their blood glucose levels reduced their risk of kidney disease b 35 to 56 percent. Another important step to take is to keep blood pressure under control. Medicines that reduce blood pressure work to prevent or stop kidney damage from getting worse. As a preventative measure, I was placed on a high blood pressure medication early on to control my blood pressure and to protect against kidney damage.

African Americans and Complications

African Americans are more than 2.6 to 5.6 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease associated with diabetes. More than 4000 new cases of End Stage Renal Disease are diagnosed each year.

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