Most People With Kidney Disease Do Not Know They Have it, Says Expert Ahead of World Kidney Day

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If disease is found early through a simple screening test, complications and the need for dialysis or transplants can potentially be avoided, says physician from a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic

CCF Dr. Cassandra Kovach

Cleveland, Ohio: Kidney disease is common, but worsening of kidney function can be slowed or stopped if caught early and appropriately managed, says an expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, ahead of World Kidney Day on Thursday, 11 March.

Dr. Cassandra Kovach, in the Department of Nephrology and Hypertension at Cleveland Clinic, said: “Many people worldwide are at risk for developing kidney disease, and most people with kidney disease do not know they have it.  It is detected through simple blood and urine tests, but because most people with early stages of kidney disease do not have symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed.”

Worldwide, kidney disease affects about 850 million people, with one in three adults in the United States at risk of kidney disease, according to the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, which jointly organize World Kidney Day. 

Kidney disease occurs when a person’s kidneys are not functioning properly, and kidney function can deteriorate over time. The severity is based on a 5-stage scale: Stage 1 is mild damage and Stage 5 is close to failure or failure, which may require kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.

World Kidney Day 2021’s theme is “Living Well with Kidney Disease,” focusing on effective symptom management, patient empowerment, and life participation. People with kidney disease can potentially slow or stop progression if they keep their blood sugar and blood pressure under control, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking, do regular exercise, and stay at a healthy weight. “Patients should also stay up to date on cancer screenings and vaccines, as other illnesses and treatments for other diseases could impact the kidneys,” added Dr. Kovach.

One of the more promising developments in treatment is Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, which help the kidneys to remove sugar through the urine. SGLT2 inhibitors are primarily used to help people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar, but benefits are also being seen for people with kidney disease.

These SGLT2 inhibitors can complement existing medications such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Both ACE inhibitors and ARB medications can treat high blood pressure and help slow progression of kidney disease in certain patients.

While kidney disease can happen to anyone, patients with diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, or a family history of kidney disease are at greater risk. Worldwide, people with African, Latino, Native American, or South Asian heritage are at higher risk for kidney disease.

“If any of these risk factors apply to you, talk to your doctor about getting tested for kidney disease” said Dr Kovach. “Despite patients’ fears, kidney disease is treatable, especially if caught early.”

About Cleveland Clinic:

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries.