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March is the month to focus on kidneys
Target lifestyle changes for prevention
Although 20 million people are at risk for chronic kidney disease, most aren’t even aware of the potential health threat, according to the National Kidney Foundation based in New York City.
Chronic kidney disease usually causes no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. That’s why the focus of National Kidney Month in March is to encourage people to be tested for kidney disease, especially if they are at risk, says Ellie Schlam, public relations director for the National Kidney Foundation.
Those at high risk include:
The National Kidney Foundation recommends that those at risk for kidney disease have their blood pressure checked, have a urinalysis to check for protein, and a blood test to determine the level of serum creatinine, which is a waste buildup that would indicate that the kidneys are not filtering the blood as well as they should.
When patients test positive for chronic kidney disease, they are referred to a kidney specialist to develop a treatment plan and discuss lifestyle changes. These might include weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, a reduction of analgesics, and the implementation of a low protein or low salt diet, says Schlam.
Patients at risk whose test results are normal should be advised to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. The most important steps would be those that have been shown to affect hypertension and diabetes, says Schlam. They include the following:
The goal of the National Kidney Foundation is to eradicate diseases of the kidney and urinary tract. Each year, more than 50,000 Americans die of kidney disease. More than 35,000 patients are waiting for kidney transplants.
For more information about National Kidney Month in March, contact: