Diabetes-related Kidney Disease in African Americans

Kidney disease is one of the most severe complications in diabetic patients. There are some alarming statistics that make African Americans especially susceptible to this complication. In this article we’ll explore some of the most interesting statistics about kidney disease both in the general United States population and specifically in African Americans.

The higher risk in African Americans for both diabetes and kidney disease (as well as most of the other more severe diabetes complications) has its basis in both biological and sociocultural factors. There are genetic traits that predispose this ethnic group to diabetes and there are also some key elements about their lifestyle and diets that put them at risk. Kidney failure is much more likely to happen (up to 400% more) in African Americans than in Caucasians, the kind of severe kidney disease that ultimately requires a transplant or to be put on dialysis. However, African Americans are predisposed to kidney disease regardless of diabetes, with about 17 percent of kidney disease in African Americans being a result of a diabetic condition. There is also quite a lot of education required, as a very low percentage of African Americans actually know that their kidney disease is related to a poor management of their diabetes.

What is truly surprising is that African Americans are not a big sector of the population, but they account for a large percentage of the total cases of kidney disease and kidney failure in the United States. If we look at cases of kidney failure related to problems with blood pressure, the number climbs even higher. The fact is that African Americans are anywhere from 10 to 14 times more likely than Caucasian males of the same age groups to develop kidney disease as a consequence of problems with their blood pressure.

It is important to note that kidney disease, however, is not restricted to African Americans. About 20 million people in the United States have kidney disease. The greatest problem with kidney disease in its early stages is that it presents practically no symptoms. It can quickly turn into more severe forms of kidney problems, like complete kidney failure, before it can be adequately treated. Dialysis and kidney transplants have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States, but will never be an adequate replacement to prevention therapy. It is important to note that diabetes and high blood pressure account for more than two thirds of all cases of kidney failure in the United States. At this rate, it is worrying to think of the numbers of people that may have kidney failure in the future if more effective treatments are not found. The truly tragic part of the whole situation is that kidney failure can be treated and reversed if it is caught early enough. That is why it is extremely important that people in risk for this disease take steps to confirm that their organs are working properly. Education is what is required today to stop kidney failure from taking more lives.

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