Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): The silent killer
Lovemore Makurirofa Correspondent
Today, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world to commemorate World Kidney Day (WKD).
To raise awareness on this silent epidemic, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its supporting partners commemorate WKD on the second Thursday of March every year.
Running under the theme “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere: From Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care”, the 2020 WKD commemorations will be held today at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, in Mashonaland West Province.
The event, organised by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners will start at 10am.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is common in both developed and developing countries.
Despite one in 10 people worldwide (an estimated 850 million people) having chronic kidney disease, treatment and prevention efforts to stem this potentially fatal condition are far from adequate in rich countries, and often near non-existent in poor countries.
CKD kills an estimated 1,2 million people each year, while acute kidney injury (AKI) is thought to cause a further 1,7 million deaths.
Latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Studies (2017) show CKD as the 12th leading cause of death worldwide, ahead of tuberculosis (13th), HIV (14th) and malaria (21st).
It was also the sixth fastest growing cause of death between 1990 and 2017.
The theme for WKD 2020 encourages countries to invest in healthcare to help treat people affected by the condition.
The epidemic is described as silent because, in most cases, by the time symptoms occur, the disease is at a very advanced stage.
The tagline: “From Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care” calls for countries to broaden their scope of intervention and focus on investment in improving the detection of CKD and also improve its management.
There is need to make screening for kidney diseases a primary healthcare intervention, including access to diagnostics such as urine and blood tests.
It should be noted that for resource constrained economies like Zimbabwe, screening of high-risk individuals and early diagnosis and treatment is cost-effective to prevent or delay end-stage kidney diseases requiring dialysis or transplantation.
Countries must therefore, have transparent policies governing equitable and sustainable access to all kidney health related services.
In Zimbabwe, the services are still unaffordable and highly centralised, thereby forcing patients to travel long distances to access these lifesaving services.
Access to correct information on kidney health is equally important to prevent and promote early detection of kidney disease.
Prevention of Kidney disease
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however, several ways to reduce the risk of developing this kidney disease.
Keeping fit and active
Keeping fit helps reduce blood pressure and reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease. Exercising frequently helps to reduce obesity.
Keeping control of your blood sugar level
About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.
Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented; if detected early. It is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of the local health workers.
Monitor your blood pressure
Many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack; few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 129/89 you are considered pre-hypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes.
At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risk with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardio-vascular diseases.
Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
This can help prevent diabetes and other conditions associated with CKD. Reduce your salt intake.
The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon). In order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients
Do not smoke
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by 50 percent
Do not take over the counter pills on a regular basis
Common drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk
Maintain a healthy fluid intake
Drink at least one and a half to two litres of safe water every day.
Some information in this article was adapted from the World Kidney Day (WKD) website (www.worldkidneyday.org) and the reading materials designed for the 2020 World Kidney day commemoration, with permission from organisers of the commemoration event.
Disclaimer: Lovemore Makurirofa writes on cancer and other non-communicable diseases.