FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with kidney disease in the United States, certain racial/ethnic groups, including blacks and some Hispanics, get sicker faster than whites do, researchers have found.

"Racial/ethnic differences are present early, before chronic kidney disease has been established," study co-author Dr. Carmen A. Peralta, of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology. "The observed differences were not fully explained by traditional risk factors," which include cholesterol, weight, tobacco use, diabetes and high blood pressure, Peralta noted.

The researchers reached their conclusions after examining the medical records of almost 5,200 adults in the United States whose kidneys initially worked normally. Based on five years of follow-up data, the researchers used mathematical equations to estimate age-related changes in kidney function.

The kidneys of blacks declined faster on an annual basis than those of whites, about 60 percent faster judging by one method, the study authors noted.

Among Hispanic groups, kidneys declined faster among Dominicans, followed by Puerto Ricans. But other Hispanics, as well as Chinese Americans, didn't suffer from a faster rate of decline than whites.

The research "reflects a new opportunity to study how to best identify persons at high risk and to investigate prevention strategies," Peralta said.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting, held this week in Denver.

More information

For more on kidney disease, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.