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Having certain heart diseases may increase a person's risk for developing kidney failure, a new study has found.

In an analysis published Thursday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers found that those with a history of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease and stroke were as much as 10 times more likely to develop kidney failure than those without any cardiovascular disease.

The authors attributed this elevated risk to the "bi-directional relationship" between the heart and kidneys, sometimes referred to as cardiorenal syndrome.

"Many physicians probably recognize that patients with cardiovascular disease are at risk of kidney disease progression, but to my knowledge, this is the first study quantifying the contribution of different cardiovascular diseases to the development of kidney failure," co-author Kunihiro Matsushita, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a press release.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 600,000 adults in the United States have been diagnosed with kidney failure, with more than 450,000 of them on dialysis. In all, kidney disease kills more people -- an estimated 47,000 annually -- than breast or prostate cancer, per agency estimates.

The National Kidney Foundation describes the connection between the heart and kidneys as, essentially, a co-dependent one. The heart supplies the body with oxygen-filled blood, and the kidneys work to remove waste and excess water from the blood.

A sickened heart may struggle to provide the kidneys with the blood needed to do their work.

For their research, Matsushita and his team examined data on 9,047 American adults who did not have signs of heart disease when they enrolled in a community-based study, following their health status for a median period of 17.5 years. During that time, 2,598 of the study participants were hospitalized with cardiovascular disease -- 1,269 with heart failure, 1,337 with atrial fibrillation, 696 with coronary heart disease and 559 with stroke -- and 210 patients developed kidney failure.

The authors found that the incidence of major cardiovascular disease was associated with a higher risk of kidney failure, with the highest risk for heart failure. Participants hospitalized with heart failure had an 11.4-times higher risk of developing kidney failure than participants without cardiovascular disease, they noted.

"Individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease should be recognized as a high risk population for kidney failure. In this context, physicians should be aware of cardiovascular disease as an important risk condition, and thereby minimize treatments that are toxic to the kidneys in such individuals," Junichi Ishigami, also aresearcher at Johns Hopkins, said. "Additionally, our findings may have implications for monitoring kidney function, although current cardiovascular disease guidelines do not necessarily specify the frequency of evaluating kidney function following the incidence of cardiovascular disease."
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