Diabetes and Kidney Disease
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for more than 40 percent of new cases. Even when drugs and diet are able to control diabetes, the disease can lead to nephropathy and kidney failure. Most people with diabetes do not develop nephropathy that is severe enough to cause kidney failure. About 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, and over 100,000 people are living with kidney failure as a result of diabetes.
People with kidney failure undergo either:
- Dialysis, which substitutes for some of the filtering functions of the kidneys
- Transplantation to receive a healthy donor kidney.
Most Americans who develop kidney failure are eligible for federally funded care. In 2000, care for patients with kidney failure cost the nation nearly $20 billion.
African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans develop diabetes, nephropathy, and kidney failure at rates higher than average. Scientists have not been able to explain these higher rates. Nor can they explain fully the interplay of factors leading to diabetic nephropathy -- factors including:
- Other medical conditions (such as high blood pressure).
They have found that high blood pressure and high levels of blood glucose increase the risk that a person with diabetes will progress to kidney failure.
While both types of diabetes can lead to kidney disease, type 1 diabetes is more likely to lead to kidney failure. Twenty percent to 40 percent of people with type 1 diabetes develop kidney failure by the age of 50. Some develop kidney failure before the age of 30. Between 1993 and 1997, more than 100,000 people in the United States were treated for kidney failure caused by type 2 diabetes.