The spotlight was on kidney health this Kidney Health Week (21-27 May), particularly with the recent passing of the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Tina Turner.
Kidney Health Australia says Ms Turner was one of the greatest advocates for kidney health, having lived with kidney disease for more than a decade.
“We are saddened to hear of Tina’s passing. Not only was she one of the greatest performers of all time, but she was also instrumental in raising awareness for kidney health worldwide,” says Chris Forbes, CEO of Kidney Health Australia.
“We owe Tina Turner a great debt. She was a wonderful crusader for the cause, urging people to get their kidneys checked. She was also the face of an international campaign for kidney disease earlier this year.”
In one of Ms Turner’s most recent statements on her social channels, she bravely shared her battle with kidney disease and recounted how high blood pressure led to her kidney issues.
She urged people to “show your kidney some love”.
The global superstar had suffered from high blood pressure since 1978, and after a stroke in 2009 discovered she had lost 35% of kidney function.
Ms Turner went onto dialysis for nine months before receiving a kidney transplant in 2017 when her husband Erwin Bach donated one of his kidneys.
Test for kidney disease
As part of this year’s Kidney Health Week, Kidney Health Australia is urging adults to take a simple 2-minute online test to determine if they are at risk of developing kidney disease.
The organisation says that approximately 1 in 10 Australians are affected by kidney disease (2 million Australians), with many not knowing they have the condition due to the lack of symptoms.
This makes the 2-minute online test critical as it could be a reality check for many Australians.
The online test was developed by Kidney Health Australia and can be taken anywhere at any time.
It includes 9 questions that help to identify your risk of kidney disease and will determine whether a follow-up appointment with your GP for a Kidney Health Check is recommended – a simple check that could save your life.
Mr Forbes says chronic kidney disease is an under-diagnosed condition.
By the time people notice any symptoms, up to 90% of kidney function is often lost, making it too late to stop or even slow down the disease.
“With three out of four Australians currently at risk, investment in early detection is vital to saving lives, while also reducing the economic burden on the health system and society as a whole,” he says.
“We want to make sure everyone has knowledge and awareness of early detection, which could save their life.
“We encourage everyone to take the 2-minute test on the Kidney Health Australia website.
“It’s a simple way to determine your risk of kidney disease and take the appropriate steps to avoid life, or the quality of it, being cut short.”
‘Early detection has never been more important’
According to Kidney Health Australia, kidney disease has no symptoms and 90% of kidney function can be lost without warning, meaning diagnosis is often too late and little can be done at that late stage to avoid kidney failure.
However, early detection can slow or even stop the progression of this insidious, incurable and deadly disease.
“Tina Turner should be applauded for her willingness to share her medical history to publicise the importance of looking after your kidneys,” says Professor Karen Dwyer, Nephrologist and Clinical Director at Kidney Health Australia.
“Her openness with her longstanding illness is a reminder for us all to keep an eye on our blood pressure, and to control it, if we are to avoid complications.
“Controlling your blood pressure is so important. There’s a bi-directional relationship between blood pressure and kidney disease.
“That means high blood pressure increases the risk for kidney disease, and once you have kidney disease it further promotes high blood pressure. It’s a vicious cycle.
“Uncontrolled blood pressure exerts a lot of pressure on the kidney.”
Professor Dwyer explains that for the first time in 20 years, there are new treatments for kidney disease that can slow down the progression to kidney failure.
“Early detection has never been more important – we have a unique opportunity to change the future for so many Australians.
“The best thing you can do this Kidney Health Week is find out if you are one of the three in four Aussies at risk of kidney disease, and if so get a Kidney Health Check with your GP.”
Kidney Health Australia points out that the symptoms of kidney disease can be vague, like poor concentration or feeling tired for example. These symptoms are often put down to winter, being busy or getting older.
“We recommend screening for kidney disease every year or two if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, excess abdominal weight, a history of smoking, acute kidney injury or a family history of kidney disease,” says Professor Dwyer.
Kidney Health Australia is encouraging all Australians to take the 2-minute online risk test.
For more information, visit: kidney.org.au/atrisk.