Thousands of people in danger of developing kidney disease remain totally unaware and risk damaging their health irreversibly. A recent YouGov (1) survey showed:
55 Percent of those questioned with health problems more likely to lead to kidney disease did not consider themselves to be at risk.
Often referred to as a silent killer due to its lack of symptoms in the early stages, kidney disease is more prevalent in people with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, but all too often gets left unmonitored. To mark World Kidney Day the Kidney Charities Together group have joined together to raise awareness, particularly among people considered to be more at risk, such as those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or who are obese.
The World Kidney Day campaign aims to draw public attention to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to protect the kidneys, the risks for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the impact it has on patients.
Early attention to diet and lifestyle, and - where needed - appropriate medications, can prevent or delay progression of CKD in those most at risk.
Professor of Renal Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, Liz Lightstone said: "Early attention to diet and lifestyle, and - where needed - appropriate medications, can prevent or delay progression of CKD in those most at risk. Symptoms are uncommon until damage is advanced. Sadly many people remain completely unaware of their risk and only find out when there is irreversible damage and people are then completely reliant on dialysis or a transplant to stay alive, neither of which are easy.
"Yet it's so simple to get a kidney check - your GP just needs to check your blood pressure, your kidney function (through a blood test) and check your urine to see if there is blood or protein present. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or circulation problems, or a family history of kidney troubles, please ask to have a kidney health check."
Monitoring kidney function gives powerful information in the absence of symptoms of early CKD, especially for people who have high blood pressure and/or diabetes or for those with a family history of kidney disease. Up to 40 per cent of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease, so regular monitoring, at least annually, is recommended. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney damage or, in some cases, be a sign of kidney disease and multiple urine infections can cause kidney scarring, especially in children, which may result in reduced kidney function. Only 54 per cent of people with diabetes and less than a third of people with high blood pressure are being offered urine tests to diagnose CKD.
Detecting the loss of kidney function can be done by measuring blood creatinine (to estimate how much blood is being filtered by the kidneys) and by a urine sample (to check whether there is protein in the urine). If abnormal kidney function is found, there is much that can then be done to not only diagnose the cause, but to prevent progression of CKD and sometimes even reverse it.
Find out more on the World Kidney Day website