WEDNESDAY, Sept. 26, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic kidney disease is strongly associated with the risk of kidney failure and death, even in patients without high blood pressure or diabetes.
That's the finding of two new studies by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Chronic kidney disease affects 10 percent to 16 percent of all adults in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia, according to a Hopkins news release. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, and diabetes are commonly seen with chronic kidney disease.
End-stage kidney disease -- or kidney failure -- is when the kidneys are no longer able to work at a level needed for day-to-day life, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains.
Chronic kidney disease almost always precedes kidney failure, and the progression can take 10 to 20 years, according to the NIH.
In one of the new studies, the researchers found that low kidney function and high urinary levels of the protein albumin were associated with all-cause and cardiovascular death and kidney failure in both patients with and without high blood pressure.
The associations of low kidney function and high urine protein with death risk were stronger in patients without high blood pressure than in those with it. However, associations to kidney failure with kidney function or urine protein did not differ between those with and without high blood pressure.
The findings suggest that chronic kidney disease should be regarded as at least an equally strong risk factor for death and kidney failure in patients with severe kidney disease -- but without high blood pressure -- as in those with high blood pressure, study lead author Dr. Bakhtawar Mahmoodi said in the news release.
The second study found that chronic kidney disease patients with diabetes had a higher risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death and kidney failure than those without diabetes, regardless of their levels of kidney function and urine protein.
The studies, published online Sept. 24 in The Lancet, provide support for clinical practice guidelines that stage chronic kidney disease based on kidney function and urine protein across all causes of kidney disease, the researchers said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic kidney disease.