Early detection key to preventing kidney disease

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It’s said that kidney disease affects 1.7 million people in Australia, but what’s more eye-opening is that a reported total of 1.5 million Australians are not even aware they have it.

Given this worrying statistic, this Kidney Health Week (7-13 March), Kidney Health Australia is urging people to get a kidney health check.

With 63 people in Australia on average dying every day with kidney disease, action must be taken now to reduce people having kidney failure by ensuring the disease is detected in time for the patient to receive adequate care and treatment.

People can lose 90% of kidney function without experiencing any visible symptoms, so early detection is paramount.

The best way to detect any kidney disease is to have a kidney health check with a doctor. A kidney health check is quick, and easy and is easily performed as part of a regular check-up.

According to CEO of Kidney Health Australia, Chris Forbes, regular kidney health checks are of utmost importance, especially now after two years of the pandemic, which disrupted many preventative health checks.

“For those in a high-risk category it is absolutely essential to stay on top of your kidney health by getting regular checks with your GP,” says Mr Forbes.

“Lockdowns have resulted in people not visiting medical professionals as often as they normally would, so we are urging at-risk Australians to get tested this week during Kidney Health Week.”

All Australians who are in a high-risk category (such as those with diabetes and high blood pressure) or people who have recently had severe Covid-19 symptoms should visit their local GP for a check.

Kidney disease risk factors

One in three Australians has an increased risk of kidney disease.

The leading risk factors for chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Other factors that increase a person’s risk include smoking, obesity, family history, being over the age of 60, or aged over 30 and having a previous acute kidney injury or a history of heart problems.

Young people also impacted

While older age is one of the risk factors for kidney disease, young people can also be impacted.

One such young person is Luke from Adelaide, who was diagnosed with kidney disease very late at stage 5 at the age of just 23.

After noticing he was fatigued and had a swollen foot, he was put on dialysis for six months before needing a kidney transplant. This may have been avoided with early detection.

“When I was 18, I would never have guessed I had kidney disease,” says Luke.

“I lost so many good years because I didn’t know what the signs or symptoms were.

“By the time I was diagnosed, I needed dialysis and a transplant. It would have only taken a simple blood test and everything could have been different.”

Kidney Health Week is from 7-13 March, with World Kidney Day falling on Thursday, 10 March.

For more information visit Kidney Health Australia’s website at: kidney.org.au