The epidemics of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, HIV and cancer have all received much attention from the public, media and policymakers. By contrast, chronic kidney disease (CKD) has remained largely a 'silent' epidemic. This is unfortunate because early diagnosis of renal disease based on proteinuria and/or reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate could enable early intervention to reduce the high risks of cardiovascular events, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and death that are associated with CKD. Given the global increase in the incidence of the leading causes of CKD--hypertension, obesity and diabetes mellitus--better disease management and prevention planning are needed, as effective strategies are available to slow the progression of CKD and reduce cardiovascular risk. CKD may be regarded as a clinical model of accelerated vascular disease and premature ageing, and the risk-factor profile changes during the progression from mild/moderate CKD to ESRD. Although many randomized controlled trials in patients with mild to moderate CKD have shown beneficial effects of interventions aimed at preventing the progression of CKD, most trials have been unable to demonstrate a beneficial effect of interventions aimed at improving outcome in ESRD. Thus, novel treatment strategies are needed in this high-risk patient group.
© 2010 The Association for the Publication of the Journal of Internal Medicine.