Vital kidney health check missed by a quarter of diabetes sufferers

Mon, 15 Jul 2013
One in four people with diabetes are missing out on a vital health test to check for early signs of kidney failure, experts have warned.

Using figures from the National Diabetes Audit, charity group Diabetes UK revealed that around 25% of diabetes patients in England (750,000 people) and 21.6% in Wales failed to have a urinary albumin check in 2010/11.

The urine test is one of a number of diabetes health checks that can detect early signs of potential complications. It checks for the presence of the protein albumin, which gives an early warning of kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy).

Left untreated, kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, which is why diabetic patients are recommended to have the urine check once a year, along with a blood test that shows how well the kidneys are performing.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "It is really concerning that a quarter of people with diabetes are missing out on a simple check that could identify kidney problems early enough to slow their progression."

"Kidney failure might not worry people with diabetes as much as other complications such as blindness and amputation, but it can have an equally devastating impact on quality of life.

"All those people who are not getting this check are at increased risk of needing dialysis and ultimately of dying early."

She added: "As well as being tragic for the person involved, kidney failure is also extremely expensive to treat and the high level of diabetes-related kidney failure is one of the reasons diabetes costs 10% of the entire NHS budget.

"Healthcare professionals need to make sure people with diabetes understand the seriousness of kidney failure, increase awareness of why the urine sample is so important and then act quickly on any problems they identify."
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