'Silent strokes' linked to kidney failure in diabetics

WASHINGTON Tiny areas of brain damage caused by injury to small blood vessels can signal an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, according to a new study by Japanese researchers.

Publishing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers led by Takashi Uzu of the Shiga University School of Medicine in Otsu, Japan, included 608 patients with Type 2 diabetes, all initially free of symptomatic stroke, heart disease or kidney disease.

Using magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain, the researchers found that 29% of the patients had the small areas of brain damage, known as silent cerebral infarction or “silent stroke.” A long-term follow-up of the patients found that those with SCI had higher risks of progressive kidney disease, and compared with those who had normal MRI scans, patients with SCI were about 2.5 times more likely to die or develop end-stage kidney disease.

“Silent cerebral infarction may be a new marker to identify patients who are at risk for declining kidney function,” Uzu said in a statement.

Uzu said that small amounts of the protein albumin present in the urine – a condition known as microalbuminuria – are the most important market to predict the progression of kidney disease in diabetics, but decreased kidney function without microalbuminuria is common in those with Type 2 diabetes. According to the new study, diabetics with SCI were more likely to develop serious kidney disease regardless of the protein condition.

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