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Study Questions Tests Used to Spot Heart Risks in Kidney Patients
Date:3/15/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic kidney disease routinely undergo tests to measure blood levels of phosphorous, calcium and parathyroid hormone, to assess their risk of heart disease.

However, a new analysis of research stretching back more than 60 years casts doubt on the usefulness of some of those tests.

Researchers found little evidence to support the notion that these "biomarkers" can diagnose or prevent potential heart trouble, especially in the case of calcium and parathyroid hormone. The analysis did confirm an association between high levels of phosphorus in the blood and mortality in people with kidney disease.

"The studies that show connections between phosphorus, calcium and parathyroid hormone with important health outcomes [death and cardiovascular disease] are too few and suboptimal. Therefore, they cannot provide good evidence for definite target levels, particularly for calcium and parathyroid hormone," said study senior author Dr. Giovanni FM Strippoli, scientific director of Diaverum and renal research coordinator at the Mario Negri Sud Consortium in S. Maria Imbaro, Italy.

"People with kidney disease have mortality rates much higher than the general population. The key problem, however, is that mortality in these patients has not decreased, despite several years of new treatments becoming available," he noted.

One problem is that "risk factors for disease have become confused with the disease itself," Strippoli said. "Now, it appears that many of the risk factors we have identified so far either are not really risk factors, or we have no drugs to appropriately treat them to improve health outcomes."

The findings are published in the March 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

About 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation,
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