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Why People With Diabetes Need Yearly Kidney Checks

People living with diabetes know how to take ownership of their health, but many may not realize the potential impact of kidney disease on their condition.

In fact, approximately 1 in 3 people living with diabetes also has kidney disease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People who have been living with diabetes for many years may have developed chronic kidney disease (CKD) without realizing it, as symptoms often go unnoticed. But kidney disease affects more than just the kidneys. 

There is a “triangle of risk” involving type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Research shows people living with both type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease are three times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than people with type 2 diabetes alone and no kidney disease.

Early detection

Fortunately, regular testing of kidney function can help identify problems before they become serious. Early detection and medication can help protect people living with diabetes and kidney disease, and reduce their risk of cardiovascular events.

Most people living with diabetes undergo yearly kidney checks in the form of blood tests for estimated glomerular filtration rate. However, a simple urine test, called the urine albumin to creatinine ratio (UACR), can identify CKD at an early stage, and help prevent the development of severe disease and the possible need for kidney dialysis.

If you or a loved one is living with type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about an annual UACR test to monitor kidney health.

“Where was everybody?”

Joey McGrath, a Know Diabetes by Heart ambassador for the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, was caught off guard when he was hospitalized with symptoms of disorientation, only to be diagnosed by a nephrologist with end-stage renal failure that would require dialysis treatments to filter his blood.

“It was very frustrating that it came out of the blue,” McGrath said. “I’ve been under doctor’s care for years. Where was everybody on this?”

Most people with type 2 diabetes should have their kidneys tested at least every year, McGrath emphasizes.

For more information about the connections between diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease, and tips for staying healthy, visit

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