Spare a thought for your kidneys on World Kidney Day by Maria Tennant
This Thursday 14 March it is World Kidney Day, and we are delighted to be working with our partners in the Kidney Charities Together group to raise awareness of kidney disease, particularly among people considered to be more at risk, such as those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or who are obese.
Thousands unaware of kidney disease risk
Thousands of people in danger of developing kidney disease remain totally unaware of this fact, and risk damaging their health irreversibly. And our recent YouGov survey showed 55 per cent of those questioned with health problems more likely to lead to kidney disease – that’s high blood pressure, blood vessel disease and diabetes – 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.
Look after your kidneys
The annual World Kidney Day campaign, on which we are partnering with Kidney Care UK, National Kidney Federation and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity, aims to make the public aware about how a healthy lifestyle can protect the kidneys, what the risks of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) are, and the impact of living with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Professor of Renal Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, Liz Lightstone says: “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,” she continues. “People are then completely reliant on dialysis or a transplant to stay alive, neither of which are easy.”
Ask your doctor for a kidney health check
“It’s so simple to get a kidney health check,” says Professor Lightstone. “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.”
It is important to monitor how well the kidneys are working even you have no symptoms, but particularly if you have high blood pressure and/or diabetes, or have a family history of kidney disease. But 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 kidney disease.
Doctors can measure how well the kidneys are working by doing a blood test to measure a molecule called creatinine - this estimates how much blood is being filtered by the kidneys. They will also take a urine sample and test it for protein in the urine. If results suggest the kidneys aren’t working so well, there are a number of options to diagnose the cause, to prevent it progressing to chronic kidney disease, and sometimes to even reverse it.
Find out more
Find out if you might be at risk of kidney disease – take our online kidney health check.
Get our e-newsletter
Stay up to date with our kidney research news, events and ways to get involved.