ATLANTA - When kidney disease came calling back in 2004, Atlanta attorney Fred Isaf had no idea he was even at-risk.
"At the time, I thought I was living a great lifestyle," said isaf.
The partner at McGuire Woods first hint of a problem was when he went in for a heart cath procedure, and was given medication to protect his kidneys from the contrast dye. He says it was odd, but didn't think much about it. Until, later, when he went to see his doctor.
"And he said, 'You're going to be on dialysis in X number of years,' and I said, 'What are you talking about?' And he says, 'We'll, you've got kidney disease," says Isaf.
And Emory cardiologist and research fellow Dr. Salim Hayek says what happened to Fred Isaf, happens a lot.
"In fact, over 10% of Americans have chronic kidney disease. And every year, 100,000 end up needing dialysis," says Dr. Hayek "Often they have no symptoms at all. And when they go get a blood test, then you see on the blood test, they have kidney damage. And that's how most of these patients are diagnosed."
But a simple blood test could help predict who is at risk for future kidney disease before the damage is done. It measures a biomarker in the blood known as suPAR.
"Soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor. It's a mouthful," explains Dr. Hayek.
Dr. Hayek and researchers at Emory and Rush Universities found suPAR (which has also been linked to heart disease) is important -- because 40% people with high suPAR levels in their blood went on to develop kidney disease within 5 years.
"Most importantly, it didn't matter if they were white, black, male, female, had diabetes or not. IUn all these subgroups of patients, with their peculiarities, all of them were at higher risk of kidney disease when they had higher levels of suPAR," adds Dr. Hayek.
Fred Isaf calls this development a huge breakthrough because by the time he knew he was at-risk, his kidneys were damaged beyond repair. His brother -in- law donated a kidney to him in 2011, seven years Isaf learned his kidneys were failing.
"Had I known 2 or 3 or 4 years before that, that it was going to happen, or that I was on the road? I could have made lifestyle changes."