Is it True that Many Elderly Have Chronic Kidney Problem?

Is it True that Many Elderly Have Chronic Kidney Problem?

People age, and so as our kidneys. It is especially common to have kidney problems after our 60s. However, growing voices are discussing whether older adults who have been informed of having chronic kidney problems are simply experiencing the loss of kidney function associated with normal aging.


In the present day, the best way to reflect kidney function is using the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). It estimates how much blood passes through glomeruli, which work as the filter, every minute. A low GFR and the signs of kidney injury may indicate poor kidney function. Based on the current guideline, a GFR below 60 for more than 3 months is considered a chronic kidney problem.


The research found that a GFR below 60 is indeed worrying for people in their 50s. But for people in their 70s and 80s, it may simply reflect a slowing of body function due to aging.


Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2021 revealed that many people over 65 with a low GFR and no abnormal protein in the urine did not have increased health risks. That research collected health data from 127,132 people in Canada and compared their risk of kidney problems and death over 5 years based on their GFR.


The research used 2 different definitions to identify adults with chronic kidney problems: one is to use the existing guideline using a GFR below 60 as the cut off; the other is adjusted according to age, such as a GFR below 45 as the cut off for adults aged over 65. Based on the result, using the current definition yielded a 60% higher incidence rate than the age-adapted definition. 57.2% of people using the fixed guideline did not have chronic kidney problems according to the age-adapted definition. Among them, 74.7% of people aged above with GFR between 45 – 59, while their albumin levels were normal or slightly elevated. Researchers pointed out that the fate of old adults with GFR between 45 – 59 tends to be death rather than completely losing kidney function as they age.


This research may reveal that the current GFR guideline does not consider the loss of kidney function due to normal aging. There may be a need for refinement to ease the burden of kidney problems in the elderly.

  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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