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Bright’s Disease / Kidney Disease/Failure

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Bright’s Disease / Kidney Disease/Failure

Bright's disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. It was characterized by edema, the presence of albumin in the urine and was frequently accompanied by high blood pressure (hypertension).

Causes Of Bright's Disease

  • include acute fevers, cold, alcohol, and excessive eating of meat.
  • Acute albuminuria is an almost constant symptom in scarlet fever, and frequently also of the other eruptive fevers. In these cases recovery from the albuminuria is the rule with appropriate treatment; but sometimes the attacks leave behind a certain enfeeblement of the action of the kidney, which may finally result in the establishment of chronic Bright's disease. The progress of the disease may be so slow and insidious that it is not noticed till certain unexplained symptoms lead to the examination of the urine, when albumen is found to be present.
    • Cold is a frequent cause of Bright's disease, in cabmen and others whose work requires them to be exposed to all weathers.
    • The abuse of alcohol also frequently results in chronic albuminuria. The presence of albumen in the blood seems to exercise a peculiarly irritating influence on the tissues of the kidney.
    • The excessive consumption of meat, and the consequent labour thrown upon the kidneys, some of the cases of Bright's disease, from which the well-to-do and well-fed suffer, are attributed. Worry and anxiety are also, there is little doubt, frequently the cause of chronic albuminuria.
    • It may be objected to the assertion regarding meat eating as a cause, that a great variety of experiments have demonstrated that temporary albuminuria cannot be produced experimentally
      • a. Normal epithelium.
      • b. Epithelial cells cloudy and swollen.
      • c. Cells in extreme degeneration.
      • d. Loose degenerate epithelial cells.

Historical Relevance

The disease was named after Richard Bright, who was the first to describe the symptoms in 1827. He described 25 patient cases involving dropsy, which is now commonly referred to as edema, and linked them to kidney disease in his Reports of Medical Cases.

Following from this, research conducted by Bright and other physicians noted a link to cardiac hypertrophy, which led to the suggestion that stimulation of the heart was involved.

One notable case of Bright’s disease was that of Arnold Ehret. His condition was diagnosed as incurable by 24 respected doctors in Europe. However, he eventually cured himself of the disease with the design of The Mucusless Diet Healing System.

In Modern Medicine, the term Bright’s disease is no longer in use and is only referenced for historical purposes. This is because the disease is due to a vast range of renal diseases, for which there are no more descriptive terms that can be used.

Diseases that often fell under the net of Bright’s Disease

  • General Nephritis (kidney inflammation), all forms, including pyelonephritis, which is an acute kidney infection that can quickly lead to kidney failure if not treated with antibiotics
  • Chronic Kidney Disease, either primary or secondary
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the filtering membrane within the kidney) was common, occasionally glomerulosclerosis (hardening of the filtering membrane tissue) is also thought to have been the primary cause of a diagnosis of Bright’s disease - much less common than glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic Kidneys
  • Systemic Lupus leading to Lupus Nephritis
  • Diabetic Nephritis 
  • Many other less common maladies that we now know are not just one disease…

People who died from Bright’s Disease / Kidney Failure

  1. Ranker - People who died from Bright’s Disease (14 people listed)
  2. UKRO Famous People Who Have Died from Kidney Disease (37 listed dying with kidney disease/failure)
  • Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) - Poet, Writer
  • Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) - Film Score Composer, Pianist, Compose
  • John Bunny (1863-1915) - Vaudeville & silent film Actor
  • Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt (1861-1884)
  • Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1870-1940) - Businessperson, Lawyer
  • Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery (1951-1890)
  • Charles Ranhofer (1836-1899) Chef
  • Rowland Hussey Macy (1822-1877) Businessperson, Entrepreneur
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( -1791) Composer (for more info about his cause of death see:
  • Sarah Bernhardt ( -1923) - Actress
  • Buffalo Bill Cody ( ) - Wild West show entertainer
  • Jean Harlow ( -1937) - Actress
  • Alfred Hitchcock ( -1980) -Director
  • Alexander III of Russia ( )

For Additional Reading See:

jump back to Cause of death portal. (Project Is under Renal Failure which is under Organ failure.)