Increased levels of protein in urine may indicate a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular problems among individuals with hypertension, according to a study published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The study, led by Roberto Pontremoli, MD, PhD, of the University of Genoa in Italy, examined the role of increased urinary albumin excretion as a predictor of renal and cardiovascular complications in 917 non-diabetic patients with primary hypertension.

Compared with subjects who did not have microalbuminuria, those with microalbuminuria (defined as a urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio of 22 mg/g or higher in men and 31 mg/g or higher in women) at the start of the study were 7.6 times as likely to develop CKD and 2.1 times as likely to develop cardiovascular complications.

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Additionally, study participants with microalbuminuria had a 3.2-fold increased risk of developing both kidney and cardiovascular complications.

The findings remained constant even after adjusting for confounding variables at baseline, including age, estimated glomerular filtration rate, BP values, BMI, duration of disease, and smoking status.

“Our findings emphasize the usefulness of a more widespread evaluation of microalbuminuria in an effort to guide the management of hypertension,” the authors concluded. “Patients with microalbuminuria should be aggressively targeted for renal and cardiovascular risk factor reduction, although further research is warranted to determine whether specific treatment would help to improve outcomes, as already reported for patients with diabetes.”