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A new study just published from Canada is showing that patients who hadurinary-system proteinuria had a shorter life expectancy than other individuals without this disease process. Proteinuria can also be referred to as albuminuria or urine albumin. It is a condition which exists in the body when there is an abnormal amount of protein found in the urine. Albumin is the main protein in the blood.

Proteinuria may be caused when a person has experienced diabetes, high blood pressure, and diseases that cause inflammation in the kidneys.  This is why doctors often order testing for albumin in the urine as part of a routine medical assessment for patients who have these diseases or who show signs of these disease processes.  It is important to identify proteinuria because it can be an early indication of chronic kidney disease. If it is left untreated it can progress into end stage renal disease. In both type one and type two diabetes albumin in the urine is one of the first signs of deteriorating kidney function.

There are no signs and symptoms initially when proteinuria begins.  There may be some swelling in the hands, feet, and face. In addition urine may appear to be foamy. Laboratory testing is the only way to identify if this disease process is taking place in a patient’s body.  A physician may also order a test for creatinine as an additional test for kidney damage.  “Groups at risk for proteinuria include African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, Pacific Islander Americans, older people, and overweight people, people with diabetes or hypertension, and people who have a family history of kidney disease.”[1]

The study in Canada showed that among people with proteinuria that men and women who were 40 years of age typically died 15.2 and 17.4 years earlier than those people without this disease process. “The study population included adults without end-stage renal disease in Alberta, Canada, who had at least one outpatient measurement of proteinuria between May 1, 2002, and December 31, 2006. A cohort of 812,386 patients (375,325 men, 437,061 women) was followed up until March 31, 2009, to identify all-cause mortality.[2] The study showed that consistently within each 5 year age group up to the age of 85 that there was a consistently shortened life expectancy.  “Life expectancy for men aged 40 years was 31.8 years for those without proteinuria, 23.2 years for those with mild proteinuria, and 16.6 years for those with heavy proteinuria. Life expectancies for women aged 40 years with normal, mild, and heavy proteinuria were 35.7, 25.2, and 18.2 years, respectively. Life expectancies of 40-year-old men and women with no proteinuria were 15.2 and 17.4 years longer, respectively, than for those with heavy proteinuria.”[3]

The study concluded, “we found a substantial and progressive decrease in life expectancy for men and women with the presence and severity of proteinuria.” The study is a good indicator why people who are suffering with diabetes and hypertension need to be seen on a regular basis by their physician. Diabetes and hypertension cannot be simply ignored by patients because there are too many complications that can arise from both disease processes.



[1] US Department of Health and Human Resources, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse NIH, http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/proteinuria/

[2] Torin, Tanvir Chowdhury, MBBS, PhD, and others, Proteinuria and Life Expectancy, American Journal of Kidney Diseases. Vol. 61, Issue 4, Pages 646-649 April 2013. http://www.ajkd.org/article/S0272-6386%2812%2901400-X/fulltext

[3] Ibid