Chronic Kidney Disease on Rise Among U.S. Seniors, Study Shows

The rate of chronic kidney disease in Americans aged 80 and older is increasing, a new study finds.

Previous research showed that the rate of chronic kidney disease in the general U.S. population increased from 1988 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2004, but no figures have been available for people aged 80 and above, the study authors said.

They added that recent studies have found that older adults with chronic kidney disease have high rates of other health problems and are at increased risk for kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and death.

In this study, the researchers examined data from more than 3,500 people aged 80 and older who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 1988 and 2010.

The results appeared in a research letter published online Sept. 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kidney function was assessed by a measurement known as glomerular filtration rate (GFR) -- how fast blood flows through tiny filters in the kidney, called glomeruli, per minute. Chronic kidney disease was defined as a GFR of less than 60.

Low GFR was found in about 41 percent of study participants from 1988 to 1994, compared with nearly 50 percent from 1999 to 2004 and about 51 percent from 2005 to 2010, according to a journal news release.

The prevalence of a more severe reduction in kidney function (a GFR of less than 45) was about 14 percent from 1988 to 1994, compared with nearly 19 percent from 1999 to 2004 and almost 22 percent from 2005 to 2010.

The findings point to rising rates of the condition among people 80 and older and suggest that "efforts to address [chronic kidney disease] among the oldest may be necessary," said Dr. C. Barrett Bowling, formerly of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in Atlanta, and colleagues.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Sept. 24, 2013