Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). The global burden of CKD is increasing, and is projected to become the fifth most common cause of years of life lost globally by 2040.
CKD is a major cause of catastrophic health expenditure. The costs of dialysis and transplantation consume 2 to 3% of the annual healthcare budget in high-income countries.
Crucially, kidney disease can be prevented and progression to end-stage kidney disease can be delayed with appropriate access to basic diagnostics and early treatment. This year World Kidney Day on March 12 we continue to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the 2020 campaign highlights the importance of preventive interventions to avert the onset and progression of kidney disease.
The term “chronic kidney disease” means lasting damage to the kidneys that can get worse over time. If the damage is very bad, your kidneys may stop working. This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.
Anyone can get CKD. Some people are more at risk than others. Some things that increase your risk for CKD include: diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, having a family member with kidney disease, being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian and being over 60 years old.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of CKD. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, working with your doctor to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control is the best way to prevent kidney disease.
CKD usually does not have any symptoms until your kidneys are badly damaged. The only way to know how well your kidneys are working is to get tested. Being tested for kidney disease is simple. Ask your doctor about these tests for kidney health: eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). The eGFR is a sign of how well your kidneys are cleaning your blood.
Your body makes waste all the time. This waste goes into your blood. Healthy kidneys take the waste out of your blood. One type of waste is called creatinine. If you have too much creatinine in your blood, it might be a sign that your kidneys are having trouble filtering your blood. You will have a blood test to find out how much creatinine is in your blood. Your doctor will use this information to figure out your eGFR. If your eGFR is less than 60 for three months or more, you might have kidney disease.
This test is done to see if there is blood or protein in your urine . Your kidneys make your urine. If you have blood or protein in your urine, it may be a sign that your kidneys are not working well. Your doctor may ask you for a sample of your urine in the clinic or ask you to collect your urine at home and bring it to your appointment.
This test is done to see how hard your heart is working to pump your blood. High blood pressure can cause kidney disease, but kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure. Sometimes high blood pressure is a sign that your kidneys are not working well. For most people a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (120 over 80). Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Damage to your kidneys is usually permanent. Although the damage cannot be fixed, you can take steps to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible for as long as possible. You may even be able to stop the damage from getting worse.
If you catch kidney disease early, you may be able to prevent kidney failure. Diet is one of the most important things when you have CKD. You need to have a kidney-friendly meal plan when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Watching what you eat and drink will help you stay healthier. A kidney-friendly diet may also help protect your kidney from further damage by limiting certain foods to prevent the minerals in those foods from building up in your body.
In Kidney Kitchen, you can take a deep dive into what each nutrient means for people with kidney disease, and how much of these nutrients common foods contain.
Learn what healthy eating means for people in every stage of kidney disease, including those on dialysis or living with a kidney transplant by consulting your doctor and dietitian.
Dr Visham Bhimull
Diploma in Family Medicine (UWI)