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World Kidney Day: A Local Opportunity to Learn About Kidney Disease and Diabetes

March 03, 2010

When it comes to living a long, healthy life, most of are aware of the importance of having healthy heart, brain, stomach, liver and lungs. But, do you think much about the health of your kidneys?

Our kidneys sustain life by filtering and returning about 200 quarts of fluid to our blood stream every day. They also act as powerful chemical factories to:

  • Remove waste products and drugs from the body;
  • Release hormones to regulate blood pressure;
  • Produce vitamin D to promote strong, healthy bones;
  • And control the production of red blood cells.

In short, we can’t live without at least one functioning kidney.

"If your kidneys fail, there is the possibility of going on dialysis or having a transplant," says Lucia Yumena, M.D., a nephrologist (kidney specialist) on the medical staff at Washington Hospital. "However, the majority of people on dialysis have a poor quality of life and the average wait for a kidney transplant is now more than seven years. It is far better for people to learn how to take good care of their kidneys to help avoid getting to that point."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and millions of others are at increased risk. Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease or kidney failure.

Free seminar on kidney health

Dr. Yumena will be the moderator at Washington Hospital’s upcoming World Kidney Day Seminar on Tuesday, March 9 at 1 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium of the Washington West Building in Fremont. The seminar is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited, not only people who have or are at risk for kidney disease or diabetes.

The speakers at the two-hour event include endocrinologist Aruna Chakravorty, M.D., who will discuss diabetes and how it affects the kidneys, and nephrologist Clifford Wong, M.D., who will discuss kidney disease early detection and prevention.

The goal of the seminar is to build public awareness about the strong connection between diabetes and kidney disease. Participants will learn about the various treatment options for kidney disease and what people who don’t have kidney disease can do to help maintain good kidney health.

After the seminar, the public is invited to attend a World Kidney Day Health Fair in the Washington West Lobby from 3 to 4 p.m. There, other health experts from Washington Hospital, including kidney and dialysis nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and physical therapists, will be available to give out information and answer questions. In addition, Washington Hospital’s Community Health Resources Library will be open to offer further information on kidney disease and diabetes, as well as a wide range of other health-related topics.

The diabetes-kidney disease connection

When kidneys function normally, they perform the critical function of filtering the blood of urea (produced when the body metabolizes protein) and other wastes. If these substances are not filtered out, they accumulate, affecting the health of other organs in the body. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and keep water, sodium and potassium in balance. In addition, they promote bone health by keeping calcium and phosphorus in balance.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. People who are in the early stages of kidney disease can help themselves through regular exercise and a healthful diet. Certain medications are also effective in helping to stem the progression of kidney disease.

"We are experiencing an epidemic of diabetes and kidney disease in this country," reports Dr. Yumena. "As a result, many people are going on dialysis, and dialysis centers are filling up. Sadly, some people with kidney disease die even before they go on dialysis. Individuals with kidney disease are 10 times more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack."

The growing number of people with obesity has been directly linked to the epidemic of diabetes and kidney disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, 280,000 adult deaths each year in the U.S. are related to obesity. People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease.

Your questions answered

At the seminar, educational materials will be distributed and advice given on reliable internet sites that offer accurate information on kidney health and diabetes. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers after the presentations.

"I encourage people to go online to the National Kidney Foundation’s World Kidney Day site at www.kidney.org before coming to the seminar," recommends Dr. Yumena. "By getting some basic education about kidney health and kidney disease in advance, people can formulate their specific questions and bring them to the seminar. As people learn, they will become more proactive about doing what they can to keep their kidneys healthy."

You can register online to attend the World Kidney Day seminar by going to the Washington Hospital web site at www.whhs.com and looking under Upcoming Seminars or by calling (800) 963-7070.

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