Laboratory Corporation of America ® Holdings (LabCorp ®) (NYSE: LH) applauds the recent recommendation of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) that all persons age 60 or older receive urine screening for chronic kidney disease (CKD), defined as abnormalities of kidney structure or loss of kidney function over time. This recommendation is an expansion of prior screening guidelines that were based on the presence of diabetes, hypertension and other risk factors not specifically based on age. The NKF’s announcement responds to a study by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, which found that nearly six in ten Americans (59.1%) will develop at least moderate kidney disease in their lifetimes, more than will develop heart disease, diabetes, or invasive cancer. Pointing to the study, the NKF calls on physicians and patients to practice primary prevention more aggressively, and specifically to add urine albumin testing to annual physical examinations for high-risk groups – those aged 60 or older and with high blood pressure or diabetes – to foster earlier diagnosis of kidney damage. Because CKD is substantially underdiagnosed today, it is associated with high morbidity and mortality and is extremely costly.
The NKF estimates that 26 million Americans, most of them undiagnosed, currently have CKD. In its earlier stages, CKD may have no symptoms and can best be detected through routine laboratory testing. LabCorp offers testing to detect the presence of albumin in the urine, which helps detect kidney damage beyond that which tends to occur with normal aging, and a serum creatinine test, from which the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, is calculated. As the disease progresses, complications, including cardiovascular disease, anemia, dyslipidemia, bone disorders, and other problems, frequently develop. Earlier diagnosis of moderate CKD can help to delay or stop progression of CKD through lifestyle changes or medication before those complications arise and can help prevent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.