New Kidney-Function Test Is Better at Predicting Death and Cardiovascular Disease
A new blood test for kidney function is showing promise as an accurate predictor of death and cardiovascular risk among the elderly.
Schmalfeldt: A new blood test for kidney function is showing promise as an accurate predictor of death and cardiovascular risk among the elderly. Investigators with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Cardiovascular Health Study say that the new "cystatin-c" test — which measures a blood-cell by-product — is more accurate in predicting future kidney-related heart problems than the current "creatinine" test — which measures a by-product of muscle cells. Doctor Jean Olson is the Project Officer for the Cardiovascular Health Study.
Olson: Creatinine is the gold standard that's used clinically as an indicator of kidney function. But, creatinine level varies, depending upon your age, whether you're male or female — and according to how much muscle mass you have. So, those are some factors that can kind of muddy the picture.
Schmalfeldt: Doctor Olson explained why the new test is better at predicting the outcome of kidney disease among the elderly.
Olson: Cystatin-C appears to be unaffected by those variables. And so, it suggests that it may be a purer indicator, if you will, of what the level of kidney function is. And, this becomes more important in older people, who may have poorer nutrition; they definitely have less muscle mass than younger people. So, an older person may have what we would consider a normal creatinine level, but that may not be accurately reflecting whether they have normal kidney function.
Schmalfeldt: More study will need to be done to determine the exact clinical role for this test. An estimated 20-million Americans have significantly reduced kidney function. Even a small loss of kidney function can double a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt, in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Jean Olson
Topic: Kidney Disease