A shocking 10 million to 20 million Americans have kidney disease and don't know it. Moreover, over 7 million people have less than half the kidney function of a healthy young adult; while another 11.3 million have at least half of what's regarded as normal kidney function, but with persistent protein in their urine (a sign of kidney disease). High chronic kidney disease increases one's risk of premature death, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, anemia, bone disease and malnutrition.
In light of this data, it is evident that a major plan of action is needed in order to deal with this stealth health condition. One professor of epidemiology, medicine and biostatistics at a school in Baltimore suggested that to reduce the rate of progression and complications of kidney disease occurring in the United States, three key concepts must be addressed:
In a study, participants were asked the question: "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you had weak or failing kidneys (excluding kidney stones, bladder infections or incontinence)?"
Responses indicated that:
- Less than 10 percent of adults with moderately decreased kidney function reported being told they had weakened or failing kidneys
- Awareness of the condition was low in all but the most severe stages of the disease
- Women with moderately lower kidney function were significantly less aware of their condition compared with similarly affected men
Researchers determined the participants' actual kidney function from blood and urine tests and estimated glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. GFR is a much more accurate way to gauge how well the kidneys work, rather than relying on the blood level of a substance known as creatinine. (Creatinine is a protein produced by muscle and released into the blood. Levels of this protein are determined by the rate it in which it is removed, which is roughly a measure of kidney function).
Science Daily December 29, 2004