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Chronic Kidney Disease: Starting the Screening Discussion

Most people are aware of the pervasiveness of heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes, but what’s less known is the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the vital role kidneys play in their overall health. The CDC estimates that 37 million people have CKD and millions of others are at increased risk. Many are unfamiliar with the chronic illness or don’t know they have it. According to the National Kidney Foundation, chronic kidney disease is so common, yet unrecognized, that Medicare alone spends $87 billion caring for individuals with CKD every year.

According to the CDC, current estimates of CKD awareness indicate that both patient- and provider-level awareness remain unacceptably low. Awareness of CKD, even among those with advanced stages of illness, has not been improving over the last decade.

Patients and providers tend to focus on keeping certain well-known metrics under control, including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. What might be overlooked is that though those parameters can and should be brought back into normal range, if the individual has experienced many years of uncontrolled hypertension, cholesterol or diabetes, irreversible organ damage may have already occurred.

Although many kidney diseases can be treated successfully, prevention and early detection before kidney disease develops and progresses is key. Screening and treatment of CKD are critical in prevention and keeping kidney disease from advancing to kidney failure.

Performing urine tests for protein and monitoring glomerular filtration rates regularly for those in the high-risk categories are recommended.

Some other things general practitioners can do are:

  1. Educate patients about kidneys and their importance in our health, as well as the medical conditions that kidney disease can cause
  2. Accurately assess patients’ risk factors beyond hypertension and diabetes
  3. Encourage patients in high-risk groups to regularly assess their own risk factors for kidney disease and to be advocates for their health and insist on being tested
  4. Recognize trouble signs and symptoms in their patients and regularly screen using two simple tests and this guide
  5. Inform what actions people with kidney disease should take and what every patient should do to keep their kidneys healthy

Learn more about screening for early intervention of CKD and receive additional resources by joining Comagine Health’s Chronic Kidney Disease Education Series. The first session will be held on June 15, 2021, at noon PT/1 p.m. MT. Registration is required. Click here to join.

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