Can Kidney Disease Affect The Brain? (And What Is The Risk To CKD Patients?)

Chronic kidney disease can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 26 million of us in the United States struggle with chronic kidney disease (CKD), while another 20 million are at risk.

Nephrologists – kidney disease specialists – focus on the kidney itself, but can kidney disease affect other parts of the body? What about its impact on your mental health?

CAN CKD DIRECTLY AND PHYSICALLY AFFECT THE BRAIN?

Kidney research conducted in the Netherlands and published in 2015 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology determined that poor kidney function is linked closely to a decreased blood flow to the brain.

The researchers also learned that chronic kidney disease patients have a heightened risk for memory difficulties, stroke, and dementia.

“Our findings provide a possible explanation linking kidney disease to brain disease,” said Dr. M. Arfan Ikram, a researcher and assistant professor at Erasmus University Medical Center.

Dr. Ikram explained, “Also, given that kidney disease and (reduced blood flow to) the brain are both possibly reversible, there might be an opportunity to explore how improving these conditions can ultimately reduce one’s risk of developing brain disease.”

WHAT ELSE HAVE KIDNEY RESEARCHERS FOUND?

The research team also concluded that the risk for brain disorders is not restricted to chronic kidney disease patients but may extend to others experiencing milder kidney difficulties.

Research conducted at Temple University in 2012 indicates that impaired kidney function is linked to impaired cognitive functioning in areas such as memory and abstract reasoning.

Adam Davey, an associate professor of public health at Temple, led the research team, which concluded that cognitive functioning and renal functioning “tracked together, so … the rate of cognitive decline is associated with deterioration in kidney function.”

WHAT DO THESE FINDINGS MEAN?

What does all of this research mean if you are an average person or a CKD patient?

If a blood test indicates an abnormal blood urea nitrogen level, your kidneys may not be filtering your blood properly. Urea is toxic. It can do serious damage to major organs including the brain.

In fact, an abnormally high blood urea nitrogen level can cause thought, memory, language, and perception disorders and can also radically impact a CKD sufferer’s attitude and behavior.

When your kidneys function improperly, you are also at risk for problems like heart disease, infertility, nerve damage, and bone disease.

WHY IS AN EARLY, ACCURATE CKD DIAGNOSIS SO IMPORTANT?

Thee are just several of the reasons why an early and accurate diagnosis of chronic kidney disease is absolutely imperative.

A misdiagnosis may be a diagnosis that was entirely missed, needlessly delayed, or inaccurate. According to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academies of Science, chronic kidney disease is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions in the U.S.

If a doctor misdiagnoses chronic kidney disease, delayed treatment may exacerbate your condition and may in fact have serious medical consequences.

If you suffer with CKD and you have been misdiagnosed at any time since you first sought treatment, you should speak at once to a medical malpractice attorney who routinely works on behalf of chronic kidney disease patients.

WHAT ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF CKD?

Anyone can suffer from depression; patients with chronic diseases like CKD have no monopoly on the condition. And just because someone has chronic kidney disease, it does not necessarily mean that person will suffer with depression.

Chronic kidney disease does, however make depression more likely.

CKD patients who suffer from depression or from high anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any other mental illness should of course seek treatment for the condition.

Many chronic kidney disease patients suffering from depression have sought treatment and have learned to manage both the CKD as well as their emotional and mental health.

How can you “manage” your own mental health? Regular physical activity will give you energy and lower the stress level.

Lower stress is important for both your physical and emotional health – especially when you are struggling with CKD. And no one with chronic kidney disease should be hesitant to seek mental health services if they need to.

ARE MEDICATIONS FOR DEPRESSION SAFE FOR CKD PATIENTS?

Psychiatrists are often asked to medicate patients with chronic kidney disease.

However, according to the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, dosing errors occur frequently with patients who have CKD, especially in later stages when it’s more difficult for a patient’s body to process and benefit from medications.

When ordering prescription drugs, psychiatrists must be cognizant of the impact of chronic kidney disease on the absorption and effectiveness of the medicines.

If any doctor orders the wrong drug or dosage, or should a pharmacy negligently give you the wrong medicine, your medical condition could deteriorate rapidly.

If that should happen, you will need to speak at once with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer about your legal rights and recourse, which might include suing for medical malpractice.

HOW IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DEFINED?

When medical professionals fail to provide what the profession itself has established as a reasonable standard of care, those medical professionals are negligent.

If you are injured or if your health markedly declines as the result of that negligence, it is medical malpractice.

Under the laws of all fifty states, the victims of medical malpractice are entitled to financial compensation for their injuries, but those victims will require an attorney’s advice and representation.

HOW CAN A MALPRACTICE LAWYER HELP YOU?

The victims of medical malpractice may receive compensation for their additional medical care, lost income, lost earning potential, and in many states, for their pain and suffering as well.

Any failure to receive an accurate early diagnosis and the right medication for chronic kidney disease can lead to a lifetime of drugs and dialysis, the necessity of a kidney transplant, or even complete kidney failure.

An unnecessary death could be the result. If you become the victim of medical malpractice while seeking treatment for chronic kidney disease, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help.

If you suffer with CKD, getting the legal help and the medical treatment you need could make a huge difference for yourself and your loved ones.

If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice, make the call now, and arrange to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer at once. That is your right.

By: Jed Kurzban

Medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Kurzban is happily married and the father of two.