Currently, the heart health is determined with the help of traditional tests of cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, a new research has revealed that simple parameters of the kidney's functions and damage may be better at predicting the risk of heart failure and death from heart attack and stroke than these traditional tests. The study said, "The data may help physicians make better decisions on whether patients need lifestyle modifications such as better diets and more exercise or treatments such as statins, medication widely used for preventing cardiovascular diseases."
Study lead author Kunihiro Matsushita, assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "Cholesterol levels and blood pressure tests are good indicators of cardiovascular risk, but they are not perfect. This study tells us we could do even better with information that often times we are already collecting. If healthcare providers have data on kidney damage and kidney function, which they often do, they should be using those data to better understand a patient's risk of cardiovascular disease."
The most common assessment of kidney function checks the blood for creatinine level, a waste product of the muscles, and reflects how well the kidneys are filtering it out, called an estimated glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Another key test measures albuminuria, or how much of the protein albumin leaks out of the kidney and passes into the urine.
The researchers analyzed data from 24 studies that included more than 637,000 study participants with no history of cardiovascular disease and the results of tests of GFR and albuminuria. They found that both GFR levels and albuminuria independently improved prediction of cardiovascular diseases in general, particularly heart failure and death from heart attack and stroke. Albuminuria was found to be the stronger predictor. It also outperformed cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure, and whether someone is a smoker, as a risk factor for heart failure and death from heart attack or stroke.
The study has been published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.