African-Americans Face Higher Risks of Death While on Dialysis

Researchers urge doctors to advise young Black patients differently than whites before undergoing this kidney procedure.

Posted: 08/12/2011 02:11 PM EDT

 

(Photo: Landov)

Despite 30 recent studies that concluded that African-Americans under 50 fare well on kidney dialysis, findings from a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University say otherwise.

 

According to the Associated French Press, the team reviewed data from over 1.3 million patients with end-stage kidney disease and found a surprising trend: African-Americans aged 18 to 30 were twice as likely to die as their white counterparts, while African-Americans aged 31 to 40 had a 1.5 times higher chance. "As a medical community, we have been advising young Black patients of treatment options for kidney failure based on the notion that they do better on dialysis than their white counterparts," said the study’s lead author, Dorry Segev. "This new study shows that, actually, young blacks have a substantially higher risk of dying on dialysis, and we should instead be counseling them based on this surprising new evidence."

 

But why are we more likely to die if everyone is receiving the same treatment?

 

It may boil down to money and frequency of treatment. Segev told the AFP that because many African-American patients do not have health insurance, they do not receive dialysis as regularly as their white counterparts. Less treatment means the patient doesn’t respond as well to treatment. Also, less money means they cannot afford for the lifesaving kidney transplants that they need. Yet, the study's authors admit that more work needs to be done to find a conclusive reason.

 

Renal failure and other kidney issues significantly impact African-Americans. More than 500,000 Americans have end-stage renal disease, and a third are Black.  

 

Learn more about renal failure here.

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