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Understanding the Relationship Between Diabetes and Kidney Ailments

3/19/2014, 2 p.m.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, African-Americans make up 29 percent of all patients treated for kidney failure in the ...

Researchers uncovered in August that African-Americans under the age of 50 who receive dialysis — a blood-filtering process commonly used to treat the disease — have almost double the rate of death risks of white patients. Dialysis is implemented when a patient has lost about 85 to 90 percent of their kidney function.

According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for Blacks aged 18 to 30, the risk of death was about double — about 28 percent when compared to 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 percent vs. 38 percent. Researchers linked the disparities to "an interaction between the biology of the disease in younger Blacks” and “racial disparities in income and access to health care,” lead researcher Dr. Dorry L. Segev told U.S. News and World Report in August. Segev is an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"There is plenty of evidence to show that Blacks have less access to health care than whites," Segev said. "If you have a disease that can tolerate that, then you will be okay. But if you have a disease that becomes out of control without health care, then you're not going to be okay."

Access to kidney transplants may also be a contributing factor, Segev told the publication, referring to the study findings. "If you were 18 to 30 and white, you had a 55 percent chance of getting a transplant. If you were Black, only 32 percent got transplants," he said.

For more information about kidney disease, symptoms and treatment options, visit http://www.kidney.org.