Chronic kidney disease is often missed

Nov. 3, 2009 at 12:24 AM

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Primary care physicians are failing to diagnose chronic kidney disease, especially in women, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Maya Rao of Columbia University in New York says primary care doctors typically order a blood test called creatinine to measure kidney function, but this alone is not a particularly accurate measure of kidney function.

The serum creatinine should also be plugged into a formula that gives an estimated kidney filtration rate -- called glomerular filtration rate -- which is a much more accurate estimate of kidney function. Women have a lower glomerular filtration rate than men for the same level of serum creatinine.

Rao and colleagues reviewed records from almost 900 patients at 18 rural, community-based primary care clinics in Oregon to investigate how primary care physicians diagnosed known kidney dysfunction in patients.

"Chronic kidney disease is very prevalent, uses a great deal of Medicare dollars and needs to be detected early in order to begin an effective treatment plan," Rao says in a statement. "Without early diagnosis and treatment, the patient may be more likely to need dialysis and suffer related consequences, such as heart disease."

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego.

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