Hemoglobin levels can be used to discriminate stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in elderly patients, according to a Chinese study. As a result, hemoglobin may be used as a biomarker to assess CKD severity in these patients, investigators concluded.

The study included 2,258 CKD patients: 1,269 elderly (older than 60 years; mean age 71 years) and 989 individuals younger than 60 years (mean age 51 years). The researchers measured glomerular filtration rate (GFR) using a 99mTc-DTPA renal dynamic imaging method.

In the elderly patients, the hemoglobin level was significantly higher in patients with stage 3a than in those with stage 3b CKD (mean 124.32 vs. 113.66 g/L), Ying Chen, MD, and colleagues at Capital Medical University in Beijing, reported in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine (2015;10:567–571). In the younger group, the researchers observed no significant difference in hemoglobin concentration between stage 3a and 3b CKD patients (120.53 and 114.18 g/L).

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In the younger group, researchers observed a significantly higher prevalence of anemia cases in those with stage 3b versus stage 3a CKD when the GFR was greater than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. They observed no significant difference when the GFR cutoff was set at 45 mL/min/1.73 m2. In the elderly group, the prevalence of anemia differed between patients with stage 3a and 3b CKD regardless of GFR cutoffs.