Your neighborhood may raise your risk of chronic kidney disease

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In a new study, researchers found a neighborhood’s overall socioeconomic status, including income and education level, may influence its residents’ risk of chronic kidney disease.

The research was conducted by a team from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

Chronic kidney disease is characterized by damaged kidneys that are unable to adequately filter waste and excess fluids out of the blood.

Without early detection and management of blood pressure and blood glucose, this damage can lead to kidney failure and dialysis or a kidney transplant as the remaining options.

An estimated 37 million—15%—of U.S. adults are estimated to suffer from chronic kidney disease, and nine out of 10 of those cases go undiagnosed.

Although previous studies have shown an association between socioeconomic status and chronic kidney disease, less is known about how an individual’s neighborhood, such as its overall socioeconomic status, walkability, violent crime and availability of healthy food, may influence the risk of chronic kidney disease, poor blood sugar control and uncontrolled high blood pressure, especially in urban areas.

In a study of 23,692 adult Philadelphians, all seen in a primary care practice in 2016 or 2017, the team found that those living in low socioeconomic status neighborhoods were more likely to have kidney disease than those living in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods.

Also, poor neighborhood walkability was linked to poor blood sugar control in chronic kidney disease patients and poor blood pressure control in those without chronic kidney disease.

These findings showed that people who are living in neighborhoods with the fewest resources are at the highest risk for kidney disease.

The results also showed that neighborhood environments that promote physical activity are protective when it comes to blood pressure and blood sugar management, whereas less walkable neighborhoods might exacerbate conditions that are risk factors for kidney disease.

The authors note that future studies should look at what neighborhood characteristics might contribute to the progression of chronic kidney disease, and whether socioeconomic status might be a marker for lower access to health-promoting resources, such as information on self-care and chronic disease management, that might help prevent chronic kidney disease.

One author of the study is Meera Harhay, MD, an associate professor of Medicine.

The study is published in SSM Population Health.

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