The earlier a disease is diagnosed – the rosier the prognosis. Even better is to be able to determine who’s at high risk for a certain disease years – before it strikes. With this knowledge, a high risk person could potentially take preventative measures that may ward off ever getting the disease. A good example is kidney disease. Up until now, doctors haven’t had a good way to tell who’s going to have kidney problems later in life unless a person has a condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, which predisposes them to it. Now, there may be a way to predict the risk of kidney disease years before the kidneys start to fail – by using a single blood test.
Can a Blood Test Determine the Risk of Kidney Disease?
Researchers recently discovered that three biomarkers in the blood may be useful for predicting a person’s risk of kidney disease. Using data from the Framingham Offspring Study, they found that homocysteine, aldosterone, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) can identify people at higher risk for chronic kidney disease. Levels of these biomarkers can be determined by drawing a single blood sample and sending it to the lab for analysis.
Homocysteine levels are sometimes checked to evaluate a person’s risk of heart disease – although levels need to be considered in conjunction with other cardiac risk factors. Aldosterone is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex, which helps to regulate sodium and potassium by the kidney. BNP is a protein used to diagnose congestive heart failure – and it helps to relax blood vessels and causes the kidneys to excrete more salt and water. Taken together, these three biomarkers offer additional information that doctors could use to better understand a patient’s risk of kidney disease.
Current Blood Tests Pick Up Chronic Kidney Disease Later
Currently, blood tests to diagnose chronic kidney disease only detect it once damage has already occurred and kidney function is declining. The two best ways to do this are to check levels of BUN and creatinine. Early disease of the kidneys can also be picked up by rising levels of protein in the urine. This newer biomarker test would alert doctors of the potential for kidney problems years before damage is done.
Biomarkers to Determine the Risk of Kidney Disease: The Bottom Line?
Expect to see more research on these biomarkers for kidney disease risk. They could provide valuable information that would allow kidney problems to be picked up before the kidneys are damaged.
Eureakalert.org. “Simple blood test helps predict chronic kidney disease”