Kidney disease is a major cause of heart-related deaths worldwide, a new study reports.
Based on data from 188 countries at six time points between 1990 and 2013, the researchers estimated that in 2013, reduced kidney function was associated with 4 percent of deaths worldwide, or 2.2 million deaths.
More than half of these deaths (1.2 million) were heart-related, while nearly 1 million were caused by kidney failure, according to the report.
The findings provide new insight into the significant impact of kidney disease, also called “renal” disease, and highlight the importance of screening for kidney problems, the study authors said.
“Understanding the true health impact of kidney disease on society necessitates considering cardiovascular as well as end-stage renal disease deaths and disability,” said Dr. Bernadette Thomas, of the University of Washington in Seattle.
“This is especially important within the developing world, where the death rate has increased since 1990,” added Thomas, who is a clinical nephrologist and global health researcher.
She made her remarks in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.
The investigators also found that reduced kidney function ranked below high blood pressure, high blood sugar and overweight/obesity, but was similar to high cholesterol, as a risk factor for disability-adjusted life years (the number of years lost due to ill health, disability or early death).
The study was published April 13 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on kidney disease.