The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, is pleased to recognize World Kidney Day, March 11, during National Kidney Month, to focus attention on a common, serious and treatable problem that too often is diagnosed too late.
Chronic kidney disease affects approximately 23 million adults in the U.S. and is a major public health challenge. In 2007, almost 111,000 people in the U.S. began treatment for the most advanced stage of the disease, kidney failure. That year, treatment costs paid by Medicare totaled $23.9 billion ? 5.8 percent of the Medicare budget. Diabetes, also a significant national health concern, is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. As the number of people diagnosed with diabetes and kidney disease continues to rise, so does the importance of research.
Among the institute's research and education programs are several that aim to reduce the burden of kidney disease and diabetes by improving understanding and management:
- The National Kidney Disease Education Program's chief objective is to reduce morbidity and mortality ? especially in communities most impacted by the disease and its complications. The program (www.nkdep.nih.gov) collaborates with government, nonprofit and health care organizations to raise awareness; provides information and resources to health care providers; and supports changes by laboratories to improve the accuracy and reliability of test results. Specifically, the program encourages health care providers to incorporate kidney disease testing and education into diabetes care to increase early detection and treatment of a kidney problem before it progresses to kidney failure.
- The National Diabetes Education Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, works with more than 200 federal, state and local partners. The program (www.ndep.nih.gov) offers materials and resources to the general public, people diagnosed with diabetes, and health care and business professionals.
- The U.S. Renal Data System collects and analyzes data on both chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Data are used by researchers, government officials, health program planners and others to develop research goals, assess public health needs, set program priorities and inform policymakers and the public.
- The Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort is a prospective, observational study of nearly 4,000 men and women with mild to moderate chronic kidney disease. The study aims to identify factors associated with rapid decline in kidney function and the development or worsening of cardiovascular disease. Knowledge gained from the cohort will do much to inform population-based interventions to reduce risks for kidney disease progression.
NIDDK collaborates with many federal agencies in a multi-faceted response to kidney disease and its risk factors. Other agencies include the CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Indian Health Service, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The federally mandated Kidney Interagency Coordinating Committee was established in 1987 to improve communication and encourage collaboration between these agencies in order to mount an effective, coordinated response to public health challenges posed by kidney disease. Learn about the federal response to chronic kidney disease at: www.nkdep.nih.gov/about/kicc.
While federal agencies have a large role in reducing the impact of kidney disease, patients and health care professionals can play an even larger one. Health professionals are crucial to early detection and treatment, which can help reduce the number of people who develop kidney failure. By integrating early diagnosis and management of kidney disease into diabetes care — and by utilizing the resources provided by information (www.niddk.nih.gov) and education programs — health professionals can better diagnose and treat kidney disease and patients can better manage the disease before it progresses to life-threatening stages. Patients can also help by participating in clinical studies. To learn about and search for studies, visit www.ClinicalTrials.gov. There are now almost 85,000 studies listed; nearly 5,000 are related to kidney disease and more than 5,000 are related to diabetes.
With the help of researchers, partners, health professionals and patients, the National Institutes of Health will continue turning discovery into health.
NIDDK, part of NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute's research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.