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Cystatin C Test- A Reliable Test to Detect Chronic Health Risks

The Cystatin C test appears to be a good alternative for identifying risks for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, that the creatinine test might miss//. A study conducted by a researcher at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, has shown the inefficacy of routine kidney function test that is incapable of picking up chronic health risks among the elderly.

"For the clinician who treats older people or others at risk for kidney disease, this is an important message: A normal creatinine level should not reassure you that your patient has normal kidney function," says lead author Michael Shlipak, MD, chief of general internal medicine at SFVAMC and an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. "It shows that cystatin is a very promising new tool that complements creatinine in the ongoing effort to detect early kidney disease and prevent its complications."

The study appears in the August 15, 2006 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Shlipak and his colleagues tested blood samples from 4,663 elders living independently in the community who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a national longitudinal study of people aged 65 and older sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers measured each participant's creatinine – an end-product of muscle metabolism that is filtered through the kidneys and has been a standard marker of kidney health for "probably 100 years," according to Shlipak – and cystatin C, a blood protein that is also filtered through the kidneys. They then matched test results with health outcomes up to nine years later.

Among participants with no diagnosed chronic kidney disease, those with high levels of cystatin C had significantly greater risk for poor health than those with normal cystatin C levels. Individuals in the high cystatin group were 50 percent more likely to die overall, nearly twice as l
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