The ‘Silent’ Killer Disease Crisis

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which affects 20 million people, is now the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. and it is growing at a steady and alarming rate — doubling every ten years. In Nevada, one in eight is at risk for developing the disease. CKD is known as the silent killer since there are no signs or symptoms until the kidneys are about to fail. Each year the cost of managing CKD exceeds $32 billion in public and private spending. HealthInsight, Nevada’s Medicare quality improvement organization, the National Kidney Foundation of Northern Nevada, Nevada State Health Division Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, and a task force of local healthcare providers are working to improve care for residents with CKD and urging those at-risk to talk to their doctor and get tested.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure, both of which are serious conditions that can lead to poor health and death. Kidneys are critical to overall health. Two major life-sustaining functions of the kidneys are to clean the blood by removing toxins and to regulate blood pressure. Compared to other ethnic groups, African Americans are at a greater risk for developing CKD because they have higher rates of both diabetes and high blood pressure, the second leading cause of kidney disease. In Nevada, African Americans represent 7% of the state’s population and 23% of people on dialysis for kidney disease, a disproportionately higher ratio than any other group.

“March is National Kidney month, and is a perfect time to call attention to the fact that most people who have kidney disease don’t know it,” said Dr. Lawrence Lehrner, a local nephrologist. “Most people do not have outward symptoms early on. In fact, many do not have symptoms for as long as 10-20 years or more. This is the ‘silent phase’ of the disease. The only way to know if you have the disease is to get some simple medical tests. If CKD is detected early, you may be able to prevent kidney damage.”

Getting tested is a positive step towards keeping your kidneys healthy. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, a family history of kidney disease or are age 60 or over the National Kidney Foundation suggests you talk to your doctor about being screened for kidney disease.

Source: HealthInsight

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