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Monitoring kidney disease among veterans

University of Michigan-Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center will create the National Kidney Disease Registry for the Department of Veterans Affairs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center will create a National Kidney Disease Registry to monitor kidney disease among America’s veterans.  

Kidney disease is common among veterans, considering their multiple risk factors such as older age, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. But kidney disease is recognized as a global health issue. 

The Kidney Disease Registry may lead to improvements in access to care, such as kidney transplants, monitoring and prevention and reduce costs related to kidney disease.

It is expected to help the Department of Veterans Affairs track its capacity to care for the more than 10,000 veterans on dialysis today. An additional 3.200 veterans are estimated to reach kidney failure each year.

“The registry will empower  the VA to prevent kidney disease among veterans, slow its progression and potentially improve quality of life for veterans,” says U-M nephrologist Rajiv Saran, M.D., MRCP, M.S., associate director of the University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center and principal investigator of the project.

Saran will collaborate with biostatisticians, organ transplant and health policy specialists on the $3.7 million project supported by the Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative.

U-M kidney specialists have been selected to create other national kidney disease tracking systems, including one for the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control. 

The latest will help provide accurate and timely information about the burden and trends related to kidney disease among veterans and identify those at-risk for kidney disease.

Kidney disease shows few early symptoms and most people are unaware of their declining kidney function until the disease is advanced. Those with kidney failure need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.

The VA is considered primed for registry development because of its sophisticated Computerized Patient Record System that records the care provided at its 115 hospitals during 5 million outpatient visits.

University of Michigan collaborators from the Health System and School of Public Health include Alan B. Leichtman, M.D., Vahakn Bedig Shahinian, M.D., Michael Heung, M.D.; Hal Morgenstern, Ph.D.; Richard A. Hirth, Ph.D., Kai Zheng, Ph.D.; Brenda Gillespie, Ph.D.; Yi Li, Ph.D., Douglas E. Schaubel, Ph.D.; David Hutton, Ph.D., and Eric Young, M.D.

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