By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 18 June 2021
The human kidneys filter more than 180 litres of fluids containing blood, waste products such as creatinine, excess water, and toxins, every day. Kidneys remove these fluids with the help of tiny filtering tubes called glomeruli. A healthy kidney can filter waste from the blood at a rate of 90 millilitres (mL) per minute or more, which is termed glomerular filtration rate (GFR). However, in the case of chronic kidney disease, the kidneys progressively lose their ability to filter effectively, resulting in a waste build-up in the body. A recent study published in the journal Neurology on 5th May 2021, stated that this decline in kidney function can increase the risk of dementia in older people.
Scientists analysed the medical data of more than 329000 patients (aged 65 years and above) who received medical treatment, in Stockholm. None of the patients had a history of dementia or kidney disease. Dementia is a syndrome characterised by a progressive deterioration in memory, behaviour, and the ability to think and perform everyday activities. The patients were followed up for 5 years. from 2006 to 2011.
Blood tests were conducted to determine the levels of plasma creatinine (secreted by the muscles and released in urine) and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of each participant. Low GFR indicates poor functioning of kidneys.
The study aimed at determining the rate of dementia in people with different levels of kidney function.
Note: The numbers were measured in person-years. Person-years involves both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spent in the study. For instance, if a study follows 1000 people for 1 year, the data would be measured in 1000 person-years.
The results of the study showed that:
The scientists further examined the data of more than 200,000 participants (who got multiple blood tests done during the study) to determine the role of the rate of kidney function decline in the development of dementia. The results showed that the faster the decline in GFR, the higher the risk of developing dementia.
With this study, scientists concluded that at least 10% of dementia cases occurred in people with a GFR of less than 60 mL per minute. Scientists suggest that doctors should develop appropriate strategies to screen and monitor dementia in people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and vice versa.
Measures that may help improve kidney function include:
Since there is no effective treatment for dementia, it is important to learn about the modifiable risk factors of the disease and take preventive measures. Though scientists in this study tried to establish the correlation between low kidney function and dementia, further research is needed to prove if preventing or treating kidney diseases can help prevent the occurrence or delay the progression of dementia.
It is, however, advisable to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease by consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. One must keep their blood pressure and blood sugar levels within the normal limits to ensure the proper functioning of the kidneys.
For any questions on kidney health, you can talk to a nephrologist.
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