Nephropathy means kidney disease or damage. Diabetic nephropathy is damage to your kidneys caused by diabetes. In severe cases it can lead to kidney failure. But not everyone with diabetes has kidney damage. The kidneys have many tiny blood vessels that filter waste from your blood. High blood sugar from diabetes can destroy these blood vessels. Over time, the kidney isn't able to do its job as well. Later it may stop working completely. This is called kidney failure.
Diabetic nephropathy is treated with medicines that lower blood pressure and protect the kidneys. These medicines may slow down kidney damage and are started as soon as any amount of protein is found in the urine. The use of these medicines before nephropathy occurs may also help prevent nephropathy in people who have normal blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, two or more medicines may be needed to lower your blood pressure enough to protect the kidneys. Medicines are added one at a time as needed.
According to Eurostat data on hospital discharges, there are around 900 000 diabetes mellitus hospitalisations in the EU in a typical year (2009). The Euro barometer survey carried out in 1996 and 2002 on health preventive examinations on Europeans reveals that, overall, taking own initiative, doctor's initiative and screening programmes together, 21.4% of the EU-15 population said they had a diabetes test in 2002. This is a few percentage points higher than the number of Europeans saying so six years previously (20.2% in 1996). Females (23.0% in 2002) were tested more than males (19.6% in 2002).
Inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system is important to reduce intra glomerular pressure but other classes of antihypertensive agent may also be needed to gain adequate control of systemic blood pressure. Such measures can at least half the rate of progression of nephropathy and cardiovascular disease.