Why is Type 2 Diabetes a Risk Factor for Chronic Kidney Disease? 

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is highly prevalent and underdiagnosed.  Those with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of CKD.  CARP wants you to know that you can take charge of your kidney health.

Kidneys 101
You aren’t alone if you’re not exactly clear on what the kidneys do. Nephrologist Dr. Louise Moist, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Western University, calls kidneys “gatekeepers.” These multi-tasking organs regulate fluids and blood pressure, balance minerals and electrolytes, ensure red blood cell production and filter wastes.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
CKD is the presence of kidney damage, or a decreased level of kidney function, for a period of three months or more.

Often considered a silent disease, CKD may not present with symptoms (such as increased urination, fatigue, swelling, shortness of breath or bruising) until it is at an advanced stage.

How are Diabetes and CKD related?
The causes of CKD are diverse, and include obesity, older age and heart failure, but diabetes and hypertension stand out as they are responsible for more than half of all CKD cases. According to Diabetes Canada, up to 50% of people with diabetes will have signs of kidney damage in their lifetime.

Dr. Moist explains, “CKD is associated with other chronic diseases because of the shared environment. They are all connected.”

Each kidney is made up of millions of tiny filters called nephrons. Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage blood vessels in the kidneys as well as nephrons so they don’t work as well as they should. Many people with diabetes also develop high blood pressure, which can damage kidneys too.

Assessing Kidney Health
It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Canadians live with the disease, but fewer than half of cases are diagnosed.

But the good news is it’s very easy to check your kidney health. You just need to ask your family doctor for a simple creatinine blood test (for eGFR) to assess kidney function and a urine test (uACR) to assess kidney damage.

Dr. Moist likens the tests to a warning light in your vehicle. “If, for example, we see protein in the urine, it’s like when a red light goes on in the car.  Even though everything seems to be fine, it’s telling you there is a problem.”

And if the tests show signs of kidney dysfunction or damage?  Dr. Moist is encouraged by recent progress in science, “We now have compelling studies showing us the importance of early intervention with medications and lifestyle changes. The last five years have been a revolution in medications that can not only reduce progression of kidney disease but can simultaneously reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and mortality.”  

For more information about how to take charge of your kidney health go to https://www.carp.ca/kidney