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Protein Levels in Urine Help Predict Kidney Function
Date:2/2/2010

Combined screening method spotted more high-risk patients, study found

TUESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- High protein levels in urine can signal trouble for people who are at risk for kidney failure and associated problems, a new study suggests.

The researchers reporting the findings in the Feb. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association are recommending that a test for protein levels in urine (proteinuria) be incorporated into upcoming new guidelines.

"Right now, the guidelines say you should use a blood test called serum creatinine [which measures a waste product processed by the kidneys] to give you an estimate of how well the kidneys are working," said study author Dr. Brenda R. Hemmelgarn, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. "We found that including another marker of kidney health -- the level of protein in the urine -- helps to better predict risk than that single measure."

"I think it's very likely to get adopted in the new guidelines," she added. And, in fact, she is probably right.

"This is probably one of the most important data sets that was presented at a recent conference of experts to look at issues of chronic kidney disease classification and prognosis," said Kerry Willis, senior vice president of scientific activities at the National Kidney Foundation, which formulates international guidelines. "We do think it is an extremely important observation, and have set about starting to revise our guidelines. This is not a randomized, prospective trial, but for an observational data set this is about as compelling as it gets."

Those new guidelines are scheduled to be ready for public review in the late summer or early fall of 2011.

"We've scheduled the meeting. We're very busy here and wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think it was really important for patients," Willis said.

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