At the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii we are often asked about Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and what a person should do to find out how if he or she has the disease.
There is good reason for concern. According to recent research, the lifetime risk of having moderate kidney disease for Americans is nearly 60 percent. Moreover, CKD is often called a “silent killer” because people can have the disease without exhibiting any apparent symptoms until the disease is in late stages.
CKD is a disease in which the kidneys are unable to filter blood as well as they should. The effect is to have waste products build up in the body and lead to further health problems, including cardiovascular disease, among other things. The disease is usually irreversible and can lead to kidney failure over time if it is not treated. However, if CKD is detected early, treatment with medication and lifestyle changes may slow down the progress of the disease or even prevent kidney failure altogether. There is no cure for CKD, and the only treatment options for kidney failure are dialysis or a kidney transplant.
So what’s the first thing someone should do if they want to know whether they might have Chronic Kidney Disease? Since early stages of the disease do not typically involve symptoms that a person can “feel” perhaps the first thing to do is have yourself screened for CKD. Your personal physician can order a simple blood test and/or urinalysis that will provide good indications of your kidney health. You might also attend a free screening offered by the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, which is designed to provide basic information that might warrant a visit with your doctor. Also, you may want to visit www. kidneyhi.org about an upcoming screening currently scheduled for March 14 at the Ala Moana Hotel as part of World Kidney Week.
Screening is particularly important for people who have high blood pressure or diabetes, as these two conditions are the leading cause of CKD. Additionally, you may be at greater risk if members of your family have a history of kidney failure or if you are over the age of 60 (although CKD can strike people at any age). Certain ethnic groups have a higher incidence of CKD, including Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, Asians, African Americans and Hispanics, although no ethnic group is immune.
First Thing: Learning the truth by getting a simple screening will enable you to make changes that just may save your life.
1 Epidemiology. 2007 July; 18(4): 501–506. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3180646338
2 AKA Framingham Offspring Study
4 Food and Nutrition Board, Institute