According to recent research, climate change might be influencing growing rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD), as higher temperatures cause dehydration and heat stress. The study suggesting these findings will be published in the next issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), titled “Climate Change and the Emergent Epidemic of CKD from Heat Stress in Rural Communities: The Case for Heat Stress Nephropathy” and authored by a team led by Richard Johnson, M.D. and Jay Lemery, M.D. from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Jason Glaser from the La Isla Foundation.
The findings of this research suggest that heat stress nephropathy might come to represent a disease present in neglected populations and could emerge as a major cause of poor kidney function in the near future. According to the researchers, over the course of the next one hundred years, climate change and resulting water scarcities will most likely lead to a broad range of health issues and disorders, mostly related to dehydration and heat stress. These health issues involve increasing risks for cognitive function, adequate nutrition, water quality, and proper kidney function among others.
The research team analyzed worldwide reports of heat stress nephropathy, or CKD consistent with heat stress, which have already been observed taking place globally. The researchers found that CKD that is not linked to typical risk factors tended to appear increasingly in rural communities scoring the highest temperatures, as worldwide temperatures rise. The team of investigators believes that the risk for heat stress nephropathy is increasing due to global warming and the increasing rate of extreme heat waves, with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations, like workers in the agricultural industry. In addition, as precipitation decreases, the epidemic could be exacerbated by a reduction in water quality and supply as temperatures keep rising and resources become scarce.
“We were able to connect increased rates of chronic kidney disease in different areas to an underlying mechanism–heat stress and dehydration–and to climate,” explained Dr. Johnson in a press release. “A new type of kidney disease, occurring throughout the world in hot areas, is linked with temperature and climate and may be one of the first epidemics due to global warming.”
The team recommends that worldwide governments and scientists cooperate to lead epidemiological and clinical studies to register and monitor the presence of these epidemics, their frequency, and their impact. In addition, the researchers advise that it will be necessary to intervene in order to improve workplace conditions and ensure adequate hydration to everyone.
The full list of the study’s co-authors include Balaji Rajagapolan, Henry Diaz, Ramon Garcia-Trabanino,Gangadhar Taduri, Magdalena Madero, Mala Amarasinghe, Georgi Abraham, SiriratAnutrakulchai, Vivekanand Jha, Peter Stenvinkel, Carlos Roncal-Jimenez, Miguel Lanaspa, Ricardo Correa-Rotter, David Sheikh-Hamad, Emmanuel Burdmann, AnaAndres-Hernando, Tamara Milagres, Ilana Weiss, Mehmet Kanbay, Catharina Wesseling, and L. Gabriela Sánchez-Lozada.