Kidney CheckUp – Time To Take Care of Your Kidney
Everyone should know their kidney health. There are common risk factors to consider and it only takes 60 seconds to learn more about your risk. March 10th, is World Kidney Day and it’s as good a time as any to assess your kidney health.
Kidney health remains an under-recognized area of focus for many when it comes to overall health.1 In fact, chronic kidney disease (CKD) – a serious, progressive disease – impacts nearly 850 million people worldwide.2 Cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, previous heart attack, stroke or heart failure (HF); and diabetes are amongst the most common risk factors for developing CKD, but there are other factors that could impact your risk, including family history, age, obesity, past damage to kidneys and race/ethnicity.1,3,4
So how do you know if you have CKD or are at risk for developing it? The best way is to be checked by a healthcare professional. A good first step – and one that takes less than a minute – is this quiz which could help determine if you might be at risk for kidney disease and whether it’s time to seek more guidance from a doctor.
If you don’t think you’re at risk, should you still be checked?
Yes, and here’s where it gets tricky: up to nine out of 10 people with CKD don’t even know they have it.5 Many people don’t realize that as they age, so do their kidneys, which is why age is one of the key factors for determining our risk of developing CKD.6 Frequently called a “silent disease,” many patients with CKD entirely miss catching its early stages, as they often don’t experience symptoms until there is a great deal of worsening progression. Astonishingly, a person can lose up to 90% of kidney function before experiencing any symptoms.7
And why does that matter? In terms of wellbeing, healthy kidneys are non-negotiable. Kidneys play a vital role in our bodies, clearing toxins and excess fluid from the blood, helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and the right balance of electrolytes like sodium and potassium.8-10 When the kidneys are not working as they should and CKD has progressed to later stages, fluids can build up, leading to swelling and high blood pressure; weakened bones and other problems can also occur. People with kidney disease are at significantly greater risk for cardiovascular (CV) disease and death at all stages of kidney disease and in fact,1 are more likely to experience a CV event, like a heart attack, stroke, and HF than progress to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).11 These issues can impact the heart, lungs, central nervous system, and immune system. Eventually, in ESKD, dialysis or an organ transplant may become necessary.10,12
Knowing your risk might be more important now than ever. Early evidence from the onset of the pandemic points to certain health conditions, including CKD, increasing a person’s risk of developing life-threatening complications from Covid-19.4 As the world digs out from the pandemic, and doctors begin to better understand its medical aftermath, emerging research has found that hospitalization with Covid-19 also significantly increases the risk of acute kidney injury, which in turn increases the risk of CKD.13
A timely intervention, which is essential to prevent or slow disease progression, can help preserve kidney function and reduce complications, including CV events, hospitalization, and mortality. Diagnosing CKD early, and when the disease is in its initial stages, makes a big difference and can lead to better outcomes.14
I think I’m at risk – what do I say to my doctor?
CKD can be diagnosed with simple tests to check the levels of creatinine in the blood, and the levels of protein in your urine.15 Creatinine is a waste product of the body excreted by the kidneys. If kidney function is reduced, creatinine will accumulate in the blood.7 Damaged kidneys also leak protein into your urine.1 These two simple tests are often not part of a routine exam. In many cases, CKD is only detected in later stages when doctors are extensively testing for other health conditions, and bloodwork reveals that the kidneys are not working properly.
That’s why the International Society of Nephrology, with support from AstraZeneca, has created this quick one-minute quiz to offer insight into whether you may be at risk for kidney disease and provide more information on the risk factors to be aware of to help start the conversation with your doctor.4
As we all go forward together into this new normal – protecting yourself from the disease has never felt more important. Proactively taking ownership of your health is an integral part of the journey we are all taking towards healing and wellness.
At AstraZeneca, our work with different key stakeholders, regional and local scientific associations, patient advocacy groups, and supporting healthcare providers to more effectively prevent, diagnose and treat CKD; is part of our larger effort to offer better tools to promote prevention, earlier detection, and more effective interventions.
1. Kidney Disease: The Basics. National Kidney Foundation. Accessed 18 February 2022. https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/fsindex
2. Jager KJ, et al. A single number for advocacy and communication-worldwide more than 850 million individuals have kidney diseases. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2019;34(11):1803-1805.
3. Chronic kidney disease basics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html
4. Are your kidneys healthy? International Society of Nephrology. 2021. Accessed 18 February 2022. https://kidneyquiz.theisn.org/
5. Kidney Disease Stats. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. December 2016. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/kidney-disease
6. Aging and Kidney Disease. National Kidney Foundation. Accessed 01 March 2022. https://www.kidney.org/news/monthly/wkd_aging
7. Chronic Kidney Disease. World Kidney Day. Accessed 17 February 2022. https://www.worldkidneyday.org/facts/chronic-kidney-disease/
8. Your Kidneys & How They Work. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed 18 February 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work
9. How Kidneys Work. National Kidney Foundation. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/howkidneyswork
10. End-stage renal disease. Mayo Clinic. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/end-stage-renal-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354532
11. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO). KDIGO 2012 clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and management of chronic kidney disease. Kidney International Supplement 2013; (3):1–150.
12. What is Kidney Failure? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed 18 February 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/what-is-kidney-failure
13. Kidney disease & Covid-19. National Kidney Foundation. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.kidney.org/coronavirus/kidney-disease-covid-19#acute-kidney-injury-aki
14. Diagnose CKD now. Accessed 18 February 2022. https://www.diagnose-ckd.com/
15. Chronic Kidney Disease Tests and Diagnosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed 16 February 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/tests-diagnosis