World Kidney Day shines the spotlight on kidneys
Kidney Health It's time kidney health was brought out of the shadows, says Renal Association President Professor Donal O’Donoghue.
Healthy kidneys are not only vital to life, but are key to a healthy heart, preventing vascular disease and reducing the risk of some cancers.
Yet kidney disease is often unrecognised. Of people admitted to hospital for any reason, 16% experience an episode of acute kidney injury (AKI) - where the performance of the kidneys suddenly deteriorates - while there. Similar numbers, around 400,000 annually, experience AKI in the community.
Many of those who suffer AKI already have reduced kidney function and/or protein in the urine, both signs of chronic kidney disease. This affects 15% of the population but most don't know, as they are typically symptom-free until a health crisis triggers AKI.
Risk factors for kidney disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney disease, or taking medicines such as NSAIDs, which include common painkillers such as ibuprofen. If that includes you, ask your GP for blood and urine tests. If at risk you should be monitored regularly.
In the year since the last World Kidney Day, understanding of the link between chronic kidney disease and AKI has increased, so health professionals increasingly realise that people with chronic kidney disease are more likely to experience a sudden deterioration in kidney function.
More healthcare professionals now recognise the importance of ensuring the correct medication and fluid intake to protect the kidneys, and see the links between kidney, heart and vascular health. The Renal Association Think Kidneys campaign, launched last year, addresses this.
This year, we aim to explain how to better protect and care for the kidneys. Patients, kidney charities, medical organisations and health professionals must all work together to spotlight kidney health.