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Cutting Phosphate In Diet Could Reduce Heart Problems Related To Kidney Diseases

Update Date: Apr 05, 2014 01:37 PM EDT

Restricting phosphate in diets at larger extent reduces deaths and reverses vascular calcification and kidney damage, according to a new study. The research was conducted on rats with chronic kidney diseases. 

According to researchers, if the findings are confirmed in human, strictly limiting dietary phosphate early in the course of progressive kidney disease might help them in living a longer and healthier lives.

"It appears that early, strict control of phosphate is crucial," said senior author Eduardo Slatopolsky, MD, the Joseph Friedman Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine, in the press release. "Waiting until a person is on dialysis to get phosphate under control is too late."

Although kidneys are able to easily filter waste products such as phosphate from blood they gradually become inefficient as kidney function declines. Slowly, a buildup of phosphate in the blood contributes to an accumulation of calcium in the heart and blood vessels. 

"A buildup of calcium in blood vessels is a huge concern," Slatopolsky said. "That we were able to reverse blood vessel calcification by severely restricting phosphate is impressive and may have important implications for the treatment of chronic kidney disease."

During the research, it was noted that rats eating a high-phosphate diet had the highest blood levels of phosphate and also the highest death rate. Rats on the low-phosphate diet had a mortality rate of only 6 percent. 

"The decrease in mortality rates was dramatic," Slatopolsky added. "We don't know the mechanism, but it's possible that bone cells called osteoclasts or immune cells called macrophages break down the plaques and reabsorb the calcium."

"More studies are needed. But it may be that patients with chronic kidney disease are not the only ones who may benefit from restricting phosphate in their diets. It's possible that people at high risk of kidney failure, including those with uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure, may be able to delay the onset of kidney problems by limiting phosphate. That's an intriguing possibility that's worth evaluating."

 The study has been published in the journal Kidney International

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