| Protect your kidneys, save your heart - 05.03.2011
The Kidney Association of Seychelles has contributed the following article to mark World Kidney Day:
Thursday March 10 is the 6th World Kidney Day, an annual event recognised and celebrated by all member countries of the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations.
The Kidney Association of Seychelles (KAS) is a member of the latter organisation.
The day has grown in leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings in 2006, becoming one of the biggest and most successful health awareness campaigns worldwide.
The annual messages have focused on the fact that kidney disease is not just a disease of the kidneys but has wider implications and can be prevented if common chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are controlled by simple and cheap measures such as good drug compliance, dietary discipline, control of weight and abstinence from smoking.
This year, World Kidney Day is focusing on the close link between kidney and heart diseases.
Heart disease is the commonest cause of death in adults in Seychelles and worldwide, and so paying more attention to the kidneys help to detect and deal with heart problems early.
The link between kidney and heart diseases is not just through diabetes and hypertension. Kidney disease on its own is being appreciated as a significant and serious risk factor for heart disease.
This is becoming a big public health issue in developing countries like Seychelles faced with the scourge of non-communicable diseases shortly after conquering communicable diseases.
Dialysis patients are 20 to 30 times more likely to have heart disease and die from a heart-related disease than the average person of the same age. In fact it has been proved that this risk starts at an early stage of kidney disease when excess protein is leaked into the urine and it becomes greater the worse the kidney function gets.
In people who are 55 years and older, the mere presence kidney disease, even in the absence of diabetes and high blood pressure, makes it more likely they will die from a heart-related condition than if they were to have diabetes and/or high blood pressure on its own.
Recent studies have shown a close link between excessive protein leakage into the urine and heart disease and heart-disease related death. Protein leakage is a very early sign of kidney disease and can be picked up by a simple, cheap dipstick urine test.
The role of screening is ever more important, not only in detecting diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease but also the first sign that one is at risk of having or dying from heart disease.
Finally, screening does not stop at detecting the risk of kidney disease and heart disease but gives a chance to start appropriate early preventive measures. There is available in Seychelles an array of drugs that can help slow down kidney disease. This comes by controlling blood pressure and diabetes, reducing protein leakage in the urine, controlling weight, reducing unhealthy dietary habits like high salt, high fat and carbohydrate, and avoiding smoking.
As we celebrate the 6th World Kidney Day, it is worth noting that before the past decade kidney disease was seen by most governments and public health authorities as largely confined to patients on dialysis or the elderly – a rare condition, because the enormous cost of dialysis disproportionately consumes scarce healthcare resources. In Seychelles this amounts to 10% of the health budget.
Much has changed. We now appreciate that kidney disease is not rare: about 10% of the population has evidence of it. We know that these individuals are not too much of a concern because only a few will progress to the expensive stage needing dialysis, but the worry is that they carry a greatly enhanced risk for early heart disease, which has its own costs.
The important message is that early kidney disease is a risk factor for heart disease. Do join the KAS this coming week in its bid to bring this message closer to you. And see the local press for places where it will carrying out screening.