Nephropathy (Kidney Disease)
Nephrons are clusters of blood vessels in the kidneys that filter out waste from the body. Nephropathy, a disease of the kidneys, develops if these nephrons lose their filtering capacity. To assess kidney health, doctors check the urine for a protein called albumin, which is normally retained in the body but can leak out if the nephrons are damaged. Microalbuniuria—the leakage of small amounts of albumin into the urine—can progress to the leakage of larger amounts of the protein. In severe cases, the kidneys can fail, leading to a need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Nephropathy is a microvascular complication of diabetes. Like all microvascular complications of diabetes, nephropathy risk can be reduced by tight blood glucose control. The American Diabetes Association currently recommends an A1C below 7 percent for the prevention of microvascular diabetic complications. When nephropathy is present, blood pressure control is essential for slowing its progression.