The Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Recent epidemiological studies in the United States report that there has been a 40% increase in the prevalence of CKD in recent years with a corresponding doubling of the incidence of end-stage renal disease and a tripling of Americans on dialysis. The prevalence of chronic kidney disease has reached epidemic proportions now affecting 13.8 to 15.8 percent of the general population.1 The expense of CKD is staggering claiming an estimated one-third of Medicare and Medicaid budgets.2
The Importance of Early Detection and Treatment of CKD
The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) was initiated by the National Institutes of Health in an effort to address this major public health issue. The NKDEP’s objective is “to raise awareness of the seriousness of kidney disease, the importance of testing those at high risk (those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure), and the availability of treatment to prevent or slow kidney failure.”3 There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that some of the negative outcomes of chronic kidney disease can be averted with early diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, it has also been reported that chronic kidney disease is significantly underdiagnosed and undertreated.3,4 In an effort to improve early diagnosis, the National Kidney Foundation has issued standardized clinical practice guidelines according to the Kidney Disease Quality Initiative (K/DOQI). In these guidelines and recommendations the primary measure of renal function is the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).