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Kidney Disease Strikes More Black Men

By on July 27, 2015

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a common cause of kidney disease in adults in the United States. In this disease, patients have high amounts of protein in the urine. This can cause swelling in parts of the body, commonly the legs. FSGS is twice as common in African-American than white patients.

The cause of FSGS is not known but commonly occurs in children and young adults and is thought to be genetic. Having relatives with this disease increases a persons risk for having the disease as well. There are other medical conditions that can cause FSGS including HIV or obesity. This referred to as secondary FSGS. Both types lead to scarring (sclerosis) in the kidney which can cause loss protein in the urine and ultimately kidney failure.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and High Cholesterol are common findings in patients with FSGS. The first sign of the disease is usually an abnormal amount of protein in the urine which can be detected on routine testing. Also routine blood testing can help identify early kidney damage. A kidney biopsy may be needed to make a true diagnosis and guide treatment.

Treatment for FSGS varies depending on the cause and can consist of medications that help to reduce the amount of protein in the urine. If diagnosed early, this treatment can be started to prevent kidney failure and the need for dialysis or renal transplantation.

Key Points:

  • FSGS is a common cause of kidney disease in African Americans.
  • Symptoms include swelling of the legs or other parts of the body.
  • Laboratory testing can show an abnormal amount of protein in the urine or abnormal kidney function testing.
  • Early detection and treatment is very important.
  • FSGS, if untreated, can lead to kidney failure requiring kidney transplantation or dialysis.

More than half of those with focal or segmental glomerulosclerosis develop chronic kidney failure within 10 years.

Dr. Clenton Coleman is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both Internal Medicine and Nephrology (Kidney Diseases and Hypertension or High Blood Pressure). Tweet him @CColemanMD