Seniors With a Syndrome Face Kidney Risk

Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance may increase risk of chronic kidney disease in seniors

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

(RxWiki News) As you get older, your body becomes less resilient in the face of diseases like diabetes and kidney disease. But a weakening body does not mean you are doomed. There are steps you can take to protect your health.

Elderly people with metabolic syndrome (having a set of certain risk factors for diabetes and heart disease) may have an greater risk of developing kidney disease.

"Lose weight and control your blood sugar to protect your kidneys."

For a recent study, Chung-Jen Yen, M.D., of National Taiwan University, and colleagues wanted to get a better understanding of how metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance (a defining characteristic of diabetes) can lead to kidney disease.

They found that insulin resistance may be the main link between metabolic syndrome and the decline in kidney function.

"Our study found that metabolic syndrome predicts both the prevalence and incidence of chronic kidney disease in people aged 65 years and older," says Dr. Yen, who was the lead investigator of the study.

"We also found that rapid decline in [kidney] function is more likely found in individuals with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels," Dr. Yen adds.

A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when he or she has at least three risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. These risk factors include: high abdominal obesity, low levels of "good" (HDL) cholesterol, high blood pressure, high levels of fat (triglycerides) in the blood, and high blood sugar levels.

Past studies have found a link between metabolic syndrome and kidney disease. This study, however, is the first to look at how this link applies to older people.

"Our study suggests that people can safeguard their kidneys when they take care of their blood [sugar] levels and lose weight," says Dr. Yen.

The study involved nearly 1,500 Asian adults 65 years of age and older. The researchers tested the participants for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Participants were followed for over three years.

The researchers found that for every unit increase of insulin resistance, a person's risk of decline in kidney function increased 1.16 times.

Dr. Yen concludes that more research is needed to examine how treating metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance can protect the kidneys of elderly individuals.

The results of the study are published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

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Review Date: 
March 6, 2012
Last Updated:
March 6, 2012