Oct 13, 2022 - Health

Minority patients with diabetes likelier to advance to kidney disease

A chart showing racial disparities in diagnoses of chronic kidney disease for diabetes patients.

Incidence rate ratios for chronic kidney disease (CKD) among 654,459 patients in the Providence and UCLA health systems with diabetes between 2015 and 2020. Dashed line represents the incidence rate ratio among white patients. Chart: Tuttle et al. "Incidence of Chronic Kidney Disease among Adults with Diabetes, 2015-2020" in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Despite recent progress, there's still a high incidence of chronic kidney disease among adults with diabetes, particularly in minority communities, a new analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine finds.

Driving the news: The review of more than 650,000 patient records found that Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Black, Native American and Hispanic patients with diabetes had disproportionately higher rates of chronic kidney disease than white patients.

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and resulting transplants or dialysis in the U.S., and the number of new diabetes patients is projected to increase in the coming decades.

Zoom in: Researchers examined electronic health records from Providence and UCLA patients from 2015 to 2020 to see how many with diabetes clinically progressed to chronic kidney disease.

  • Rates were 60% higher in Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians than whites; 40% higher in Blacks; 33% higher in American Indians and 25% higher in Hispanic people.
  • Less than 10% of patients who had early-stage kidney disease were aware of it, lead author Katherine Tuttle told Axios.
  • This means that annual testing is falling by the wayside, Tuttle said, which delays the beginning of treatment.
  • "We could prevent many deaths, and among the living, keep people healthy, but if we're not identifying the patients, we can't keep people healthy," Tuttle said.

Yes, but: The rate of chronic kidney disease in diabetes patients in the general population did decline between 2015-2016 to 2019-2020 time period, from 8% to 6.4%.

  • However, Tuttle said this trend will very likely reverse if projections of increasing diabetes cases nationally materialize.
  • "It's important, serious and treatable," she added.
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