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Diabetes and kidney disease: a major killer

Berlin (Germany), 9 June 2003 – Diabetic kidney disease adds enormously to the morbidity and mortality of people with diabetes worldwide, warned the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), who launched their joint new publication ?Diabetes and Kidney Disease: Time to Act? in a press conference today.



Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. It currently affects over 177 million people, and is predicted to rise to over 300 million by 2025. Diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) affects both types of diabetes ? type 1 and type 2.


At least 50% of people with diabetes will develop microalbuminuria, the earliest sign of diabetic nephropathy, characterized by the excretion of slightly increased amounts of the protein, albumin, in the urine. Among these 50%, almost one third will develop more severe kidney disease and reach end-stage renal disease, a situation in which kidneys fail to filter the blood and the person will need replacement programmes such as kidney transplantation or dialysis treatment. In fact, diabetes is the single most common cause for end-stage renal disease and concerns people with both types of diabetes.



Diabetic nephropathy also adds enormously

to national healthcare costs. Both kidney transplantations and dialysis treatments have a tremendous impact on health services, social security and the individual. It is estimated that dialysis costs approximately 30,000 Euros per person per year, whereas a kidney transplant will cost approximately 13,000 Euros per person the first year, and over 5,000 Euros per year thereafter



Furthermore, people with diabetic kidney disease face much higher risk of cardiovascular disease than people with diabetes alone, who in turn face greater risk than people without diabetes. Studies show that those who suffer microalbuminuria are two to three times more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, than people with diabetes and normal albuminuria.



Urgent action has to be taken to highlight the extent of the problem of diabetes and kidney disease, to encourage early detection and evaluation, and to try to prevent what is essentially a preventable disease?, said Professor Robert C Atkins, President of the ISN.


The good news is that it is now possible to take action to slow or stop the development of diabetic kidney disease. Good treatment of blood glucose and blood pressure can slow the early development of any renal disease. Early screening for microalbuminuria can then enable intervention in the early stages of diabetic kidney disease; it can prevent or slow down the progression to end-stage renal disease and will certainly have long-term cost-effectiveness.

Helen Rickwood, a patient from the UK commented: ?Nine years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes and have recently developed high blood pressure and renal anaemia. Thanks to effective treatment, the anaemia has stabilised and I am now able to continue with my full time job and return to an active lifestyle?.


Promoting a healthy lifestyle is another task for organizations such as IDF and ISN and a priority for governments. Lifestyle modifications involving more physical activity and a balanced diet can help prevent diabetes or, once it is diagnosed, can prevent its complications. The need for prevention rather than cure must be emphasized, as people with diabetes suffer far more severe consequences of kidney disease than others.


?It is vital that governments contribute to the battle against this alarming threat by encouraging and promoting lifestyle changes, providing health education for all and investing in primary prevention programmes?, argued Professor Sir George Alberti, President of IDF. ?There can be no doubt that now is the time to act.?




The press conference was organized with the support of an unrestricted educational grant from Roche


For further information, please contact



Anne Pierson, IDF Public Relations Manager (Tel: +32-2-543 1623,

         mobile +32-475 -343


[email protected]



Victoria Rugg, IDF Project Editor


Tel: +32-2-543 16 28,

[email protected]




Nikki Walker at ISN (Tel: +32-2-743 1546,

[email protected]


Note to editors


Diabetes and Kidney Disease: Time to Act

is the most up-to-date global report on one of the most prevalent and costly long-term complications of diabetes, diabetic nephropathy. Its objectives are to raise awareness of diabetic nephropathy and to recommend courses of action to prevent or delay this complication of diabetes. The publication, sponsored by an educational grant from Roche Diagnostics, is available in English and will soon be available in French and Spanish.



There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is the most common type in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin. As a result they need injections of insulin in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. If people with type 1 diabetes do not have access to insulin, they die. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all people with diabetes worldwide.


Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), is the most common in older people. However, as a consequence of increased obesity and inactivity among the young, type 2 diabetes is now emerging in children and adolescents at an alarming rate. People with type 2 diabetes do not always require injections of insulin. Often, they can control their diabetes by controlling their food intake, losing weight if appropriate and taking regular physical exercise. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all people with diabetes worldwide.



The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is the only global advocate for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers. It is an umbrella organization of member associations comprising national federations and associations which are actively concerned with diabetes. IDF currently has 183 member associations in 142 countries around the world, representing millions of people with diabetes, their families, healthcare providers and specialists.



The mission of the IDF is to work with its member associations to enhance the lives of people with diabetes through a range of activities and tools, including education for people with diabetes, public awareness campaigns and the promotion of the free exchange of diabetes knowledge. Visit


for further information.

The International Society of Nephrology (ISN) was founded in 1960 by eminent leaders in the field of renal diseases to provide its membership with programmes and services that elevate the standards of education, research and patient care in nephrology on a worldwide basis. To fulfil this mission, the ISN acts as an international forum on nephrology and provides a variety of educational services to l

eading nephrologists as well as young investigators, from both developed and emerging countries.


ISN?s more than 7,000 members include researchers and clinicians from over 100 countries involved in basic, translational and applied science. Through this global network of professionals, ISN is focused on designing programs that aim to understand and diagnose kidney disease and provide suitable treatment, either to prevent the disease or slow its progression.


For further information, visit



As part of this year?s World Diabetes Day campaign IDF and ISN are collaborating on a number of awareness projects. One of them is a microalbuminuria screening day in people with type 2 diabetes. Its objectives are to measure the prevalence of microalbuminuria in this population and to increase the awareness of both patients and physicians of diabetic kidney disease and cardiovascular risks. Detecting microalbuminuria allows treatment to be optimized to prevent or slow down the progression towards renal or cardiovascular complications. The project will be carried out in several countries throughout the world and the total expected number of people to be screened is 25,000. The results of the study will be made available for future events and press activities


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