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Why Spouses of Dialysis Patients Get Kidney Disease Too

Similar health habits may be to blame, study finds

FRIDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- A shared home environment and similar health habits may help explain why spouses of kidney dialysis patients are at increased risk for developing kidney disease, according to a new study.

"We were surprised to find that the risk of developing chronic kidney disease for spouses of hemodialysis patients is just about as high as it is for blood relatives of these patients," Dr. Hung-Chun Chen, in the nephrology division at Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, said in a National Kidney Foundation news release.

The researchers looked at the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in 95 spouses and 196 first- and second-degree relatives of 178 dialysis patients. They found that chronic kidney disease was much more common among the spouses and relatives of the patients than in a control group of people who weren't married or related to dialysis patients.

Compared to the control group, the spouses of dialysis patients had higher rates of smoking, use of herbal medicines and analgesics (painkillers), and high blood pressure. The researchers also found that diabetes was a significant risk factor for chronic kidney disease in the spouses of dialysis patients. Diabetes can be caused by obesity and poor health habits.

The study is published in the May issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

"In light of these findings, it is critically important that spouses of dialysis patients receive careful screening for chronic kidney disease, in addition to first-degree relatives. Education about the role of environmental factors and health habits in increasing the risk of developing CKD is essential, as well," Dr. Kerry Willis, senior vice president for scientific activities at the National Kidney Foundation, said in the news release.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic kidney disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: National Kidney Foundation, news release, April 30, 2010

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