THURSDAY, Nov. 2, 2017 -- While diabetes cases continue to rise in the United States, one potential outcome -- kidney failure -- has decreased by one-third, health officials report.
The rate of kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation among people with diabetes fell 33 percent from 2000 to 2014, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. This continued a trend begun in the 1990s.
"Continued awareness of risk factors for kidney failure and interventions to improve diabetes care might sustain and improve these trends," wrote researchers led by Nilka Rios Burrows. She's an epidemiologist in the CDC's division of diabetes translation.
The survey data reflects all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
It's likely that people with diabetes have better control of blood pressure and blood sugar, two risk factors for kidney failure, the researchers suggested. For example, treatment with so-called ACE inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers can slow the decline in kidney function while lowering blood pressure, they noted.
Dr. Maria DeVita, a nephrologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed.
"We can conclude that the measures that physicians take to delay progression is working to some degree," she said.
However, "we have to be cautious about the data as some of it was from self-reporting," DeVita added. "In addition, there has been a significant increase in those patients undergoing preemptive kidney transplant, thus not technically reaching [end-stage kidney failure] and therefore not being captured on federal forms."
According to the report, about 1 in 3 adults with diabetes has kidney damage or reduced kidney function. But most are unaware of it.
The researchers said earlier screening for kidney disease in people with diabetes is important. And better treatment can prevent complications, they noted.
More than 9 percent of Americans are estimated to have diabetes, according to recent CDC figures. The overwhelming majority have type 2, which is linked to overeating and a sedentary lifestyle.
Preventing type 2 diabetes is one way to lower the odds of chronic kidney disease, the CDC says.
Lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and weight management, can help in that regard.
Despite improving numbers with regard to kidney failure, doctors and patients with diabetes should not become complacent, experts said.
"Diabetic kidney disease remains a major health concern and certainly more work needs to be done," DeVita said.
The study findings appear in the CDC's Nov. 3 Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases talks about diabetes and kidney disease.
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