High levels of a specific hormone in a patient of kidney ailment can tell who will develop heart problems, require dialysis or die prematurely.
“This discovery allows us to predict at-risk patients before they require dialysis,” said lead investigator Michel Chonchol, associate professor of medicine specializing in nephrology, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“That’s critical because approximately 23 percent of patients on dialysis die in the first year,” the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reports.
Chonchol and fellow researcher Jessica Kendrick studied the blood plasma of patients with an advanced kidney disease, according to a Colorado statement.
They found that levels of the hormone fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23), increased as the patient’s kidney function decreased.
The hormone regulates phosphorous levels in the body. As the kidneys fail, they are unable to excrete phosphorous. The higher the hormone levels, the greater the chances of the patient’s death.
By the time a patient is down to just 30 or 40 percent kidney function, the levels of FGF-23 can predict who will die, have a cardiac event or end up on dialysis.
“Prior to a patient going on dialysis the phosphorous levels shoot up,” Chonchol said. But he found that long before phosphorous levels jump, FGF-23 levels already increase.
“The best ways to prevent kidney disease is through blood pressure control, diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight,” Chonchol said.