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Reduced Kidney Function Tied to Mental Decline

MONDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Decreased kidney function leads to declines in thinking and memory, a new study says.

Researchers looked at changes in kidney function and mental skills for five years in nearly 600 people. The greater the decrease in a person's kidney function during that time, the greater their decline in overall intellectual abilities, particularly abstract reasoning and verbal memory.

The study appeared Nov. 19 in the journal Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation.

"The brain and kidney are both organs that are affected by the cardiovascular systems," lead author Adam Davey, associate professor of public health in Temple University's College of Health Professions and Social Work, said in a university news release. "They are both affected by things like blood pressure and hypertension, so it is natural to expect that changes in one organ are going to be linked with changes in another."

The findings highlight the importance of diagnosing and managing chronic kidney disease.

"As we get older, our kidney function tends to decrease naturally, so if there's an extra issue involved in renal function like chronic kidney disease, we need to know about it as soon as possible," Davey said. "That is something that needs to be managed, just like you would manage hypertension."

He noted that the decrease in intellectual skills caused by reduced kidney function is not so significant that it would interfere with patients being able to participate in the treatment of their kidney disease.

"Patients are still going to be able to take their medicine on time and without assistance, as well as understand the information that their physician is sharing with them about their disease," Davey said.

Although the study found an association between decreased kidney function and a decline in mental skills, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The National Kidney Foundation has more about chronic kidney disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Temple University, news release, Nov. 19, 2012

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