National Kidney Awareness Month [INFOGRAPHIC]
March is National Kidney Month, which means that it is time to spread awareness about the risks of kidney disease and how you can keep your kidney’s healthy! Ever since 2011, kidney disease has ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Incredibly, there are more than 20 million adults in the U.S. that are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and yet most of these people have no idea that their kidneys are in danger. When left untreated, chronic kidney disease can eventually cause complete kidney failure. In those circumstances, a patient’s only hope for survival includes transplantation or dialysis.
Think About Your Kidneys this National Kidney Month 2013
Throughout the month of March, organizations like the American Kidney Fund are urging every American to take the time to consider their kidney health. So, if you haven’t gone in to have your kidneys checked, then this would be the perfect time to schedule an appointment. Clinical studies on renal impairment have shown that the number of global deaths due to kidney disease have been growing over the last 20 years, but this is a risk that you can cut out of your life by taking some preemptive steps during National Kidney Month 2013.
Some Key Stats on the Kidney
Your kidneys are two organs, which are roughly the size of a fist, located in your lower back. They are responsible for performing a number of functions which are essential to maintaining your overall health:
- Kidneys help regulate blood pressure with the release of hormones
- Kidneys help control the production of red blood cells
- Every day, the kidneys filter out waste from 200 liters of blood
- Regulate the potassium, salt and acid content in the body
- Removes drugs from the body
- Balances the level of fluids within the body
- They produce an active form of vitamin D which is essential for healthier bones
Kidney Disease Risk in the United States
- Kidneys can be prone to disease
- 1 out of every 3 Americans is at risk of CKD due to high blood pressure (hypertension), family history of CKD, or diabetes
- At this point, more than 26 million people have kidney disease
- Most are unaware that they have this disease due to a lack of symptoms during early stage
- At this time, there are more than 95,000 people in need of a kidney transplant
- Over 590,000 Americans have experienced kidney failure
What Can You Do During this Month?
Organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, the American Kidney Fund, and others are offering a number of activities to help promote better kidney health and awareness of CKD risk factors. If you are looking to get involved this month, you should consider:
- Free Kidney Screenings: If you have diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of kidney disease, then you can get a free kidney screening throughout the month of March. Find locations on the NKF website.
- Free kidney health tracker available at the American Kidney Fund website
- Give a gift to the American Kidney Fund in honor of someone special in your life. Learn more at: http://www.kidneyfund.org/give-now/gifts-in-honor-of/
- NKF’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, is hosting an interactive kidney Q&A session on twitter during World Kidney Day (the 14th) from 12-2 pm.
- You can sign up for the AKF Advocacy Network and help spread awareness of kidney disease in your local community. Learn more at: http://www.kidneyfund.org/advocacy/advocacy-network/
- Can put a “Fight Kidney Disease” support ribbon on your car.
- Become part of the Pair Up campaign, which you can learn more about at: http://www.kidneyfund.org/pair-up/
- It’s still not too late to take the 31-day PKD challenge. Just visit: http://www.pkdcure.org/events/31-days-of-pkd-challenges
- Learn how to eat better in order to promote healthier kidneys by asking a certified dietician. Melissa Altman-Traub, MS, RD, CSR, LDN, will be answering people’s questions all throughout the month. If you are interested, go to: http://nkfdietitian.wordpress.com/
- The Kidney Trust also offers free rapid screening for chronic kidney disease.
The Importance of Early Detection and Screening
Since there are usually no symptoms associated with early stage kidney disease, laboratory tests and screening are essential. During one of these screenings, lab techs will take some blood to have it tested for creatinine, a waste product. If the levels of creatinine are high, then this would be a signal of abnormal kidney function. This test will also allow technicians to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), an indication of the current stage of CKD. Taken together, these results can provide an overall evaluation of the patient’s kidney function.
- In most cases, no symptoms of kidney disease
- Screening essential for early detection of CKD
- Blood is tested for creatinine levels
- High level of creatinine indication of abnormal kidney function
- Lab technicians also able to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), to determine stage of CKD
- Age, gender, ethnicity, and creatinine level are factored into GFR
- Obtain an overall evaluation of current kidney function from a kidney screening
What Can You Do if You Have CKD?
- Kidney failure can be prevented through early detection and effective treatment of underlying diseases (diabetes and hypertension)
- Delay progression of kidney disease through healthier lifestyle adjustments, including:
- Adhering to a diet that gets you the appropriate levels of protein, fluid, and sodium
- Getting regular exercise
- Drinking more water in order to avoid dehydration
Foods that can Promote Kidney Health
Some great foods to include in your kidney friendly diet:
- Red Bell Peppers
- Egg whites
- Red Grapes
- Olive Oil
If you are considering dialysis, then there are physician teams which can work with you to develop a personalized treatment routine.
What Is Hemodialysis?
- This is a form of renal replacement therapy ( a treatment which fills in for failed kidneys)
- Hemodialysis will filter out bodily waste
- This procedure removes excess fluids
- Can balance electrolyte levels (including bicarbonate, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, magnesium)
- Blood is removed from patient’s body and filtered through a dialyzer (a man-made membrane also referred to as an artificial kidney), then returned to the patient’s body
- Three access points used for Hemodialysis:
- AV Graft
- Arteriovenous (AV) fistula (most recommended by the dialysis community)
- Central Venous Catheter
National Organizations for Kidney Health
- National Kidney Foundation (http://www.kidney.org/)
- PKD Foundation (http://www.pkdcure.org/page.aspx?pid=329)
- The Kidney Trust (http://kidneytrust.org/)
- American Kidney Fund (http://www.kidneyfund.org/)
- National Renal Administration Association (http://www.nraa.org/index.php)
- American Association of Kidney Patients (http://www.aakp.org/)
- American Foundation for Urologic Disease (http://www.usrf.org/)
- American Society of Nephrology (http://www.asn-online.org/)
- American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA)( http://anna.inurse.com/)
- Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC)( http://www.dialysispatients.org/)
Special Events and Fundraisers for National Kidney Month
- The NKF Kidney Walk (http://donate.kidney.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Walk_copy_of_homepage)
- Kidney Action Day on the Hill, held on March 7th (http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-month/)
- NKF Cadillac Golf Classic at Pebble Beach (http://www.kidney.org/news/nkfgolfclassic/index.cfm)
- American Kidney Fund’s 18th annual Calendar Kids Art Contest (http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-month/)
- Walk for PKD (http://walkforpkd.org/)
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