Kidney disease screening could be worth the cost

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Kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), is a big problem in the United States. About 15% of adults in the country have this disease, and many don’t even know it.

CKD can be a silent illness until it gets really bad or even leads to kidney failure.

Right now, Medicare, the US health program for elderly people, spends a whopping $87 billion each year to take care of people with CKD.

They spend another $37 billion for people who need a kidney transplant because of kidney failure.

Why We Should Screen for Kidney Disease

Given how serious and expensive kidney disease is, it’s a top priority to catch it early.

If we know someone has CKD in its early stages, we can start treating it right away. That way, we can prevent the disease from getting worse.

The Debate About Screening

There’s been some debate about whether it’s helpful to screen for early-stage CKD. Some experts weren’t sure if it improved health outcomes.

But there’s a new medication called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors that’s changing the conversation. These inhibitors are a kind of medicine that can help treat CKD.

The Study and Its Findings

A team of researchers at Stanford University wanted to know if it’s cost-effective to screen adults 35 years and older for CKD.

They looked at the costs, the quality of life years (QALYs), and the cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) of screening for a protein called albuminuria, a marker of kidney disease.

They compared two scenarios: one where adults were screened and given SGLT2 inhibitors, and another where adults were given the current standard of care for CKD.

What did they find? Screening US adults once and giving them SGLT2 inhibitors between ages 35 and 75 could prevent almost 400,000 people from needing dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Also, screening every 10 years until age 75 would cost less than $100,000 for each QALY gained. In other words, the cost of screening could be worth it for the improvements in people’s quality of life.

The Takeaway

Screening for CKD could be a good use of our healthcare dollars. It could help us catch the disease early and start treatment right away, preventing the disease from getting worse.

As a bonus, it could also improve people’s quality of life. All these findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and common painkillers may harm heart, kidneys and more.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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