Kidney problems can increase the risk of brain disorders, a new study finds.
The findings suggest that protecting kidney health may also benefit the brain, the researchers said.
They studied data from more than 2,600 people in the Netherlands, and found that poor kidney function was strongly associated with decreased blood flow to the brain. They also saw an increased risk of stroke and memory and thinking problems (dementia) in people with kidney problems.
The association was independent of known heart disease risk factors, the researchers said.
The study was published Aug. 6 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
“Our findings provide a possible explanation linking kidney disease to brain disease,” Dr. M. Arfan Ikram, an assistant professor of neuroepidemiology at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.
“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,” Ikram added.
The researchers also noted that the risk of brain disorders may not be limited to people with chronic kidney disease, but also likely extends to people with milder kidney disorders.
The National Kidney Foundation has more about chronic kidney disease.