Experts to study new tests for big killer

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CRITICALLY-ILL patients suffering from a common life-threatening condition are being targeted in a new project by experts in Yorkshire to find earlier tests to diagnose the problem.

Acute kidney injury causes 42,000 deaths a year and costs the NHS £1.2bn annually.

Evidence shows those who suffer from it are more likely to die than people who have a heart attack. But specialists believe earlier detection of the condition, previously known as acute renal failure, could reduce the death toll and lead to the development of new therapies.

The condition leads to an abrupt loss of kidney function, with official NHS guidance suggesting it is seen in as many as one in six hospital patients, often the elderly.

In the joint project between Leeds University and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, specialists will assess how patients are treated in the NHS and evaluate the capability of new tests to improve routine care.

Co-leader of the study, Peter Hall, said: “Acute kidney injury is a major problem in critically-ill patients in the NHS. The consequences include death or the development of chronic kidney disease and the need for long term dialysis. Simple treatments are effective if used promptly but we urgently need better diagnostic tests to allow earlier detection.”

Colleague Andy Lewington said: “Patients who suffer acute kidney injury are at a higher risk of death than patients who suffer a heart attack. Funding and research in this area needs to improve if we are to improve patient outcomes.”

The first results of the study are expected by 2016.