What to know about kidney disease

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Lately most of America is saddened with the passing of many famous stars in movies and music. However, even though we feel a loss of them all, some seem to hit home more than others especially when that person is in the prime of his or her life. One such star is Barry White who passed away at the age of 58 last Friday.

Since his death, I have heard a few people discuss the fact that they didn’t know that high blood pressure could cause kidney failure. They were thinking that the biggest cause of this kind of failure was diabetes. Then I began to realize that we talk about the cause and prevention of heart attacks, cancer and strokes often but very seldom talk about other functioning parts of our bodies. The sad thing about this fact is that when a famous figure dies of a disease, that disease is then recognized and focused on. The National Kidney Foundation

(NKF) sent out a press release since White’s death; therefore, I decided to take advantage of it in order that you or someone you may know may benefit from it.

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Like White, millions suffer from high blood pressure but not everyone understands that keeping it under control can prevent kidney disease. Worse yet, some of us don’t even know that we have it.

I have been a victim of high blood pressure since I was 32 years old.

One day as I was preparing to go shopping with one of my sisters when I returned to the car to get behind the steering wheel, I became very dizzy. Before I knew it, I was down on the ground beside the car. I had no idea what was wrong with me and made an appointment with the doctor. The very first blood pressure reading that I was aware that I had was 160/90, which was high. I have been on medication ever since and realize that if I hadn’t I may have been gone a long time ago to meet my maker. I had felt perfectly fine until that dizzy spell and that’s why high blood pressure is called a silent killer because in most cases, there are no symptoms.

I have been told that I have to watch my diet, reduce or void stressful situation, exercise on a daily basis and to watch my weight. All of these rules are very hard to follow; therefore, I keep a blood pressure monitor with me most of the time and especially here on the job.

Very few of us have any idea of how well our kidneys are functioning and how important they are to our overall health.

According to the National Kidney Foundation of the Virginias 20 million American adults have kidney disease and that most don’t even know it. Early symptoms such as protein in the urine may go unnoticed and that’ the tragedy.

If kidney disease is found early, there’s a chance that it can be stopped from progressing. Therefore, the National Kidney Foundation would like to take the opportunity to get a positive message of early detection to the public.

Those in the high-risk categories along with the high blood pressure are diabetics, a family history of kidney disease, extreme obesity. If you fall under one of these you should be checked out and monitored. Ask your doctor for three simple tests: blood, urine and a blood pressure measurement. Volunteers are also needed to help increase the awareness in area communities.

Warning signs of kidney disease and/or urinary tract disease are (1) pain in lower back, blood in urine, painful or frequent urination, puffiness of the feet; (2) diabetes and/or high blood pressure or a family history of either (3) older Americans, blacks, Asian and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Hispanics are at greater risk.

Things you should do with the help of your doctor are (1) regularly measure your blood pressure and have it treated if too high; (2) Have a routine urine test for protein, which may indicate kidney disease; and (3) have a routine blood test for creatinine, for the same reason.

At the time of White’s death, he was on a transplant donor waiting list. According to the NKF, more than 50,000 patients are waiting for kidney transplants but only about 14,000 will receive them this year because of a shortage of suitable organ donors.

Of the single kidney transplants performed in last year, 6,554 were from living donors and 6,185 were from non-living donors. Also last year 12,739 people with kidney disease were given a &uot;Gift of Life&uot; by receiving a transplant.

To learn more about risks, prevention, and organ donation, readers can log on to www.kidneyva.org or call toll free at 1-800-kidney8.

Evelyn Wall is a staff reporter and a regular News-Herald columnist.