TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A new study appears to upend the long-held belief that black patients with kidney failure do better on dialysis than whites.
Researchers found that black patients younger than 50 years old who receive the blood-filtering process actually fare worse than whites.
"This is a brand new finding," said lead researcher Dr. Dorry L. Segev, an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Before, all medical decision making, referral and medical care advice has been given under the pretext that blacks do better on dialysis. Now we know that's not true for young blacks."
In the United States, blacks are almost four times as likely as whites to develop end-stage kidney disease, according to background information in the study.
The findings suggest a need to rethink how younger black patients with kidney failure are counseled regarding their treatment options, the study said. While dialysis acts as a replacement for lost kidney function, the process is arduous, often interfering with work and family life.
Earlier studies looked at all blacks, not at different age groups, Segev said. For this study, the researchers reviewed information from the U.S. Renal Data System on 1.3 million people with end-stage kidney disease who received dialysis, and they separated the results by age.
Overall, the data showed that blacks did somewhat better on dialysis than whites: 63.5 percent of whites died during treatment compared with 57.1 percent of blacks.
However, when the researchers stratified the results by age, they found surprising differences. For blacks aged 18 to 30, the risk of death was about double -- about 28 percent vs. 14 percent for whites. In the 31-to-40 age group, blacks were 1.5 times more likely to die. Between the ages of 41 and 50, the increased risk of death narrowed to about 45 perce
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