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For kidney disease patients, staying active might mean staying alive

Lack of exercise increases risk of premature death

Getting off the couch could lead to a longer life for kidney disease patients, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN). The findings indicate that, as in the general population, exercise has significant health benefits for individuals with kidney dysfunction.

Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) die prematurely, but not from effects directly related to kidney problems. Because physical activity has known health benefits, Srinivasan Beddhu, MD (Salt Lake City VA Healthcare System and University of Utah), and his colleagues researched the question of whether or not exercise can help prolong CKD patients' lives.

The study included 15,368 adult participants (5.9% of whom had CKD) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, a survey of the US population. After answering a questionnaire on the frequency and intensity of their leisure time physical activity, participants were divided into inactive, insufficiently active, and active groups. On average, participants were followed for seven to nine years.

The researchers found that 28% of individuals with CKD were inactive, compared with 13.5% of non-CKD individuals. Active and insufficiently active CKD patients were 56% and 42% less likely to die during the study than inactive CKD patients, respectively. Similar survival benefits associated with physical activity were seen in individuals without CKD.

"These data suggest that increased physical activity might have a survival benefit in the CKD population. This is particularly important as most patients with stage III CKD die before they develop end stage renal disease," the authors wrote.

The authors report no financial disclosures. Study co-authors include Bradley Baird, Jennifer Zitterkoph, Jill Neilson, and Tom Greene, PhD (University of Utah School of Medicine).

The article, entitled "Associations of Physical Activity with Mortality in Chronic Kidney Disease: NHANES III," will appear online at on October 8, 2009, doi 10.2215/CJN.01970309.

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Founded in 1966, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is the world's largest professional society devoted to the study of kidney disease. Comprised of 11,000 physicians and scientists, ASN continues to promote expert patient care, to advance medical research, and to educate the renal community. ASN also informs policymakers about issues of importance to kidney doctors and their patients. ASN funds research, and through its world-renowned meetings and first-class publications, disseminates information and educational tools that empower physicians.

Shari Leventhal | EurekAlert!
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