The prevalence of chronic kidney disease will rise in the United States, according to a new report published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases during March’s National Kidney Month. The amount of adults aged 30 or older who have CKD is projected to increase from 13.2% currently, to 14.4% in 2020 and 16.7% in 2030, which represents a total increase of almost 27%.

The prevalence model, developed by RTI International for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates some of the issues the nation will face as diabetes rates increase and Americans live longer.

“We were surprised by the high probability of developing CKD during a lifetime,” said Thomas Hoerger, PhD, a health economist and senior fellow at RTI International. “It’s higher than most diseases that immediately jump to mind, and while the likelihood of chronic kidney disease progressing to complete kidney failure is much lower, CKD itself has been linked to a number of comorbidities and adverse health outcomes.”

For U.S. adults aged 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65 or older with no CKD at baseline, the residual lifetime incidence of CKD is 54%, 52%, and 42%, respectively, according to Dr. Hoerger’s research. This compares to lifetime incidences of 12.5% for breast cancer in women, 33% to 38% for diabetes, and 90% for hypertension in middle-aged men and women.

“People need to be aware that as we age beyond 50 years, we lose kidney function, making age over 60 a risk condition for CKD,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the National Kidney Foundation. “CKD progression can be slowed with lifestyle changes and medications. That is why NKF advocates for annual kidney screenings among people most at risk – those with high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure and those over age 60.”

The study also highlights the impact the projected rise in CKD will have on the U.S. health care system. Medicare expenditures for kidney disease and kidney failure were already over $87 billion in 2012 according to analysis conducted by the U.S. Renal Data System.

“Hopefully this model will help policy makers become aware of chronic kidney disease as a growing problem that needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Hoerger. “Ideally this will act as an impetus to invest in interventions and discoveries that can slow the progression of kidney disease.”

Researchers at RTI International will continue to further refine their model to incorporate other national health issues, such as obesity, and to also assess how positive interventions could alter the course of kidney disease in America.