Currently, the primary approach to treating patients with kidney stones is to focus on the stones. Yet helping patients maintain a healthy diet and body weight can reduce the number of patients with kidney stones.
“Imagine that we only treated people with heart disease when they had chest pain or heart attacks, and did not help manage risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure,” says Scales. “This is how we currently treat people with kidney stones. We know the risk factors for kidney stones, but treatment is directed towards patients with stones that cause pain, infection, or blockage of a kidney rather than helping patients to prevent kidney stones in the first place.”
In an accompanying editorial that will also appear in the journal, Brian Matlaga, MD, MPH, associate professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, writes that the cost of care for this disease is enormous, and there is no indication that the coming years will see any improvement in this trend. He also warns that, since approximately 10 percent of the population has the disease, a greater emphasis on prevention is imperative.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (N01-DK70003), as part of the Urologic Diseases in America project based at UCLA and RAND.