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March is National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month. DaVita is helping raise awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that 1 in every 7 adults (age 18 or older) in the United States has*, as well as people with end stage renal disease (ESRD) who need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney disease develops when kidneys lose their ability to remove waste and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. The severity of CKD depends on how well the kidneys filter wastes from the blood.  It can progress quickly or take many years to develop.

Because there are little to no signs of the condition, most people are not even aware that they have kidney disease until it reaches the later stages, including kidney failure.  

Risk factors for chronic kidney disease

High-risk populations include those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and family history of kidney disease. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and high blood pressure is second leading cause (source: National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet, 2017); according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control , 1 in 3 with diabetes and 1 in 5 with high blood pressure have kidney disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, African Americans are nearly 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with kidney failure compared to Caucasians. Other high-risk groups include Hispanics, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and seniors 65 and older.

Who should be screened for chronic kidney disease?

Anyone 18 years old or older with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or a family history of kidney disease should be screened for kidney disease. If you live in an area that is offering a free screening, plan to attend. If not, visit your doctor and ask that you be screened for chronic kidney disease.

What is involved in a kidney screening?

Because there are often no symptoms of kidney disease, laboratory tests are critical. When you get a screening, a trained technician will draw blood that will be tested for creatinine, a waste product. If kidney function is abnormal, creatinine levels will increase in the blood, due to decreased excretion of creatinine in the urine. Your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) will then be calculated, which factors in age, gender, creatinine and ethnicity. The GFR indicates the person’s stage of chronic kidney disease which provides an evaluation of kidney function. 

How do you treat chronic kidney disease?

In many cases, kidney failure can be prevented or delayed through early detection and proper treatment of underlying diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure to slow additional damage to the kidneys. Also helpful are an eating plan with the right amounts of sodium, fluid and protein.  Additionally, one should exercise and avoiding dehydration. Treating diabetes and high blood pressure will slow additional damage to kidneys.

End stage renal disease patients have two treatment options:

  • Dialysis is a treatment that removes wastes and excess fluid from blood when the kidneys are not able to do it on their own. Typically, It is necessary upon development of kidney failure — usually by the time an individual loses about 85-90 percent of kidney function. There are over 380,000 people (including children) in the United States who depend on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (PD) treatments to stay alive.
  • The only other treatment option for people with end stage renal disease is a kidney transplant.

What can you do to raise kidney disease awareness?

Visit DaVita.com/KidneyAware and take the steps now to raise awareness about kidney disease. Take the quiz and encourage others to do the same.

*Source: 2017 CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.