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Protect Your Kidneys and Head Off Trouble

March 01, 2011

Panel Discussion Focuses on What You Can Do to Reduce Kidney Disease Risk

Having—or being at risk for—chronic kidney disease (CKD) changes the way you have to think about a lot of things, including nutrition, medications and heart disease risk.

In the United States alone, an estimated 26 million American adults have CKD, with millions more at increased risk for developing it, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

The good news is that patient education and early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease.

On Tuesday, March 8, from 1 to 3 p.m., a panel of physicians and other health care professionals will present a World Kidney Day seminar at Washington Hospital, focusing on treatment options, CKD’s link to heart disease and nutrition.

Reaching out to the community

"Our goal this year is to reach out to the community and educate them about kidney disease and how it increases cardiac disease risk," says the seminar’s moderator, Lucia Yumena, M.D., a Washington Hospital medical staff nephrologist.

The kidneys, which remove wastes and fluid from the body, also perform other critical functions, such as:

  • Regulating body water and other chemicals in the blood such as sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium
  • Removing drugs and toxins introduced into the body
  • Releasing hormones into the blood to help regulation of blood pressure, production of red blood cells and building of strong bones

In the case of chronic kidney disease, damage to the kidneys—most often caused by diabetes and high blood pressure—impacts their ability to do these things.

If kidney disease is left untreated, wastes usually filtered by the kidneys can accumulate to dangerous levels in the blood and make people feel sick. Other complications can include high blood pressure, anemia low blood count, weak bones, poor nutritional health, nerve damage—and increased risk of serious heart-related complications.

"With this year’s talk we’re targeting the general public, including those who are healthy, those who have heart disease and people who may not even know they have kidney disease," Dr. Yumena says.

Keeping your kidneys healthy

Since kidney disease is progressive, it’s important for people with risk factors to educate themselves.

Qi Che, M.D., a Washington Hospital medical staff nephrologist who will speak during the panel, says that early recognition of chronic kidney disease is vital for several reasons, particularly for the 20 million Americans at risk of developing CKD.

"This disease is usually silent, which means that most do not have any symptoms in the early stages," Dr. Che says. "As a result, CKD remains under-recognized and under-treated. However, early detection is simple and can be done by measuring creatinine, urine protein and your blood pressure."

By learning more early on, Dr. Che says that patients can:

  • Keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse
  • Slow the progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • Reduce related complications like cardiovascular disease, anemia, bone disease, and malnutrition

Understanding kidney disease

For more information about chronic kidney disease and its link to heart disease, attend the upcoming seminar at Washington Hospital on Tuesday, March 8. The seminar will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, across the street from the main hospital building.

A special health fair focusing on kidney disease will immediately follow the seminar from 3 to 4 p.m. and 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.

Click on the following link to register for the World Kidney Day seminar and health fair: http://www.whhs.com/events?id=182

At the heart of the matter

To learn more about the link between chronic kidney disease and how it affects risk of heart attack and stroke, see the March 4 issue of the Tri-City Voice weekend edition.