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Research released today in light of World Kidney Day 2017 has revealed that that 55% of people in the UK with the most common risk factors for kidney disease (vascular disease, high blood pressure or diabetes) said they do not consider themselves to be at risk of kidney disease.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Kidney Research UK, the charity committed to developing treatments and research into kidney disease, also found that the majority of people in the UK are generally not aware of the risks of kidney disease, with almost 4 in 5 (77%) admitting to having limited to no knowledge of its causes, symptoms, or treatment.

Moderate to severe chronic kidney disease is thought to affect around three million people in the UK. Dubbed ‘the silent killer’ kidney disease often has no symptoms and up to one million of these people have not been diagnosed and are unaware they have the condition.

It is known that 60,000 people each year die prematurely from the effects of chronic kidney disease, with 64,000 being treated for end stage renal failure with kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant annually. According to the UK Renal Registry, the number of people with end stage kidney failure is increasing by 4% every year. As well the increased probability of needing transplantation or dialysis, people with chronic kidney disease are also at higher risk of having heart attacks and strokes.

Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK, said: “This research shows a staggering lack of awareness of kidney disease or understanding of the risks posed by existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Our World Kidney Day campaign aims to highlight the importance of early diagnosis for those who are at greatest risk and to help identify undiagnosed patients.

“Our goal is to increase awareness and understanding of kidney disease. We hope that, in turn, this will help increase the number of people receiving early diagnosis for renal diseases as, if caught in its early stages, the damage done in some cases can be prevented, slowed, and possibly reversed.”

Since 2015, Kidney Research UK has led a nationwide project called ASSIST-CKD to identify people at the greatest risk of progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD). The project, which is being rolled out through pilots across the UK, uses software to map data from routine blood tests and identify these people as early as possible. This enables patients to receive the support and help they need to preserve their kidney function for longer and in some cases may delay or prevent the need for kidney dialysis or transplantation.

With no immediate cure for chronic kidney disease, current treatments (i.e. dialysis and transplantation) come at a significant cost to the NHS with the estimated cost for the NHS in England being £1.45 billion annually.

Kidney Research UK wants to reduce the numbers of people whose lives are cut short by kidney disease and help people live better lives for longer. The charity wants to increase its investment in research to find better treatments and cures for renal diseases. Since 1985, Kidney Research UK has invested approximately £65 million into renal research and associated conditions.

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