Thursday, May 26, 2005

New Kidney Function Test - Cystatin-C

Transplant recipients know the importance of creatinine levels as an indicator of kidney function. Now, investigators believe there may be an even better test, especially in the elderly, according to this press release.

May 18, 2005 - New Kidney Function Test Better than Standard at Predicting Death and Cardiovascular Outcomes.

Cystatin-C, a new blood test for kidney function, is a better predictor of death and cardiovascular risk among the elderly than the standard measure of kidney function, according to a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded study published in the May 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. This more sensitive test distinguishes those at low, medium and high cardiovascular risk, which may enable earlier detection.

Investigators for NHLBI’s Cardiovascular Health Study compared the two measures of kidney function, cystatin-C and the standard test creatinine, as predictors of death from all causes, death from cardiovascular causes, and incidence of heart attack and stroke among 4,637 elderly participants in the study.

The 20 percent of the participants with the highest levels of cystatin-C had twice the risk of death from all causes as well as death from cardiovascular disease, and a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack and stroke compared with those who had the lowest levels of cystatin-C. In contrast, testing the same participants with creatinine detected a smaller high-risk group—about 10 percent of the participants—and all others appeared to be at average risk.

With cystatin-C, investigators found that 60 percent had abnormal kidney function putting them at medium or high risk for cardiovascular complications.

It is estimated that 20 million Americans have significantly reduced kidney function, and that even a small loss of kidney function can double a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

"This study affirms the important link between kidney function and cardiovascular health and survival in the elderly. If these findings are confirmed in other studies, cystatin-C could be a useful prognostic tool for evaluating older people at risk for not only kidney disease, but cardiovascular disease as well,” said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., NHLBI director.

NHLBI Communications Office
(301) 496-4236
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See full news release:
NIH/NHLBI News Release

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