|Statement of Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., Director,
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
for National Kidney Month
Kidney disease is common, serious and treatable. Yet, most of
the 26 million Americans who have kidney problems still don't know
it because they don't have symptoms, hampering efforts to prevent
kidney failure. While World Kidney Day 2008 has passed and National
Kidney Month is well under way, here at the National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National
Institutes of Health, we continue to hear from people about kidney
health. We remain strong in our commitment to support research
and to raise awareness about important steps people can take to
protect their kidneys.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, vascular
disease, or kidney disease in the family, you are at risk for kidney
problems. Blood and urine tests are the only way to find the disease
early, when treatment is more likely to significantly delay or
prevent kidney failure. To help protect the kidneys, I urge you
to carefully control high blood pressure — and blood sugar
if you have diabetes — and ask your doctor if you should
take an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor or ARB (angiotensin
No one is immune from kidney disease. It does not have a season.
It strikes children and adults and people of all races and ethnicities.
It runs in families, disproportionately affecting African Americans
and Native Americans. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure,
premature death, heart attacks, strokes, bone disease, and growth
and development problems in children. Diabetes and high blood pressure
are the top causes of kidney problems, but kidney disease is also
caused by glomerulonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, focal
segmental glomerulosclerosis, and vesicoureteral reflux.
NIH research has shown that more people are getting kidney disease
and kidney failure every day. Treatment advances and the increase
in diabetes and in the U.S. population — and the graying
and growing girth of our population — means more people than
ever are getting and living with kidney problems. Chronic kidney
disease now affects about 13 percent of the U.S. population, up
from 10 percent in 1994. And in 2005, more than 485,000 people
were on chronic dialysis or had a kidney transplant for kidney
failure, costing Medicare, private insurers and patients $32 billion.
At NIH, our timeless commitment to vigorous medical research has
improved patient care and, in the 2007 budget year alone, this
agency made a $450 million investment in advances of the future.
Past NIDDK-supported clinical studies established that tight glucose
control and ACE inhibitors prevent or slow kidney disease and other
complications of diabetes. Current NIDDK programs are adding to
ever-increasing knowledge of kidney disease — from basic
research to understand the underpinnings of healthy and diseased
kidneys to clinical research involving patients, and from children
to adults. Ongoing studies include a trial of magnetic resonance
imaging to monitor polycystic kidney disease, more frequent dialysis
for kidney failure, and treatment studies for polycystic kidney
disease, glomerulosclerosis and vesicoureteral reflux in children.
In line with our mission, NIDDK's National Kidney Disease Education
aims to improve early detection and broaden the use of available
treatments. Through this ambitious program, we ask labs to automatically
report estimated kidney function (eGFR) to find the disease earlier
and to use standardized kidney tests, and we offer time-saving
tools to improve communication between kidney specialists and primary
care physicians. Visit our Web site to learn about other NKDEP
activities and information available for people at risk and for
the health professionals who care for them.
Finally, I hope you will consider participating in clinical trials
and remember: If you are at increased risk for kidney disease,
get tested. If you have high blood pressure, carefully control
your pressure and ask your doctor if you should take an ACE inhibitor
or ARB for your kidneys. And if you have diabetes, also carefully
control your blood sugar.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,
a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research in diabetes
and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases,
nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases.
Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of
all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the
most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans.
For more information about NIDDK and its programs, see www.niddk.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.