Diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease, is common in diabetics with poor control of their condition. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not respond to insulin or is unable to produce insulin. When there is a shortage of insulin in the body and/or body resistance to insulin, the blood glucose level remains high. This can cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidney, as the nephrons have to work extra hard to filter the blood. Over time, they become damaged and lose their filtering ability.
Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure in Singapore, accounting for 67% of new cases. There are 400, 000 diabetics in Singapore today and the number is expected to rise to a staggering 1 million in 2050. Singapore ranks top in the world for diabetic nephropathy, with 2 in 3 new cases of kidney failure being attributed to it. 1 in 3 people may develop diabetes in their lifetime, with almost half of them being unaware of their condition and therefore were not being treated for it.
Diabetic nephropathy occurs in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. The occurrence of high blood pressure in diabetics is a strong predictor for diabetic nephropathy. For those with existing diabetic nephropathy, uncontrolled blood pressure will aggravate and hasten the progression of this disease to CKD 5 or kidney failure. Those who have a family history of diabetic nephropathy are at a higher risk of developing this condition.