Diabetes and Kidney Failure? I Had No Idea!

Many patients are unaware of the relationship between diabetes and kidney failure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Many diabetics are unaware that their kidneys have been damaged until the disease has already taken its toll, according to UK researchers.

Professor Gurch Randhawa, director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedordshire, and colleagues spoke with 48 patients with diabetes. The researchers found that the patients were surprised, fearful, and expressed regret upon finding out that their kidney's had been detrimentally impacted.

With the help of research fellow Emma Wilkinson, Professor Randhawa investigated how the experiences, knowledge, and attitudes differed between white patients and South Asian patients upon discovering that diabetes affected their kidneys. The researchers spoke with 23 South Asian patients and 25 white patients between the ages of 34 and 79. All the study participants had type 2 diabetes and had been accepted for clinical review at a specialist renal department.

Randhawa and Wilkinson found that many of the patients did not know that their kidneys might have problems until they were referred to a renal specialist. Many South Asian patients even stated that both kidney problems and diabetes were common among their friends and family, yet they did not recognize a connection between the two health problems.

The study participants saw their diagnosis of kidney problems as a wake-up call that they needed to improve their management of their condition. However, many were curious as to why they were not better informed of the link between diabetes and kidney problems.

According to Professor Randhawa, the lack of awareness about the relationship between diabetes and kidney function is partially due to lack of information provided to diabetes patients. Randhawa concludes that the long-term educational needs of diabetes patients are just as important as the educational needs of newly diagnosed patients.

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. Almost 44 percent of of kidney failure cases are caused by diabetes. Nearly 180,000 people are living with kidney failure as a result of diabetes.

The study by Professor Randhawa and Emma Wilkinson appears in the March issue of the Journal of Renal Care.

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Review Date: 
February 9, 2011
Last Updated:
February 10, 2011