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Semin Dial. 2008 Jan-Feb;21(1):29-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2007.00384.x.

Cognitive function in chronic kidney disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing public health problem. The incidence of kidney failure is rising in all age groups but particularly in older adults. Individuals in all stages of CKD are at higher risk for development of cognitive impairment and this may be a major determinant in their quality of life. Furthermore, cognitive impairment is associated with an increased risk of death in dialysis patients. Cerebrovascular disease is a strong risk factor for development of cognitive impairment and vascular disease is a more likely cause of cognitive impairment than Alzheimer's disease in patients with CKD. Both traditional and nontraditional vascular risk factors are more common in CKD and dialysis patients may also be at risk for cognitive impairment via nonvascular risk factors and the hemodialysis procedure itself. Unfortunately, because risk factors for cognitive impairment in CKD have not been thoroughly ascertained, evaluation of potential treatments has been limited. Given the high prevalence of cognitive impairment in all stages of CKD, additional studies are needed to evaluate potential risk factors and treatments in this vulnerable population.

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