Chronic kidney disease is serious business. It can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Or kidney failure, which means needing dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. The right treatment can help prevent these serious outcomes.
Kidney disease is really common. About 1 in 7 adults has it. But the scary thing is: 90% of people with chronic kidney disease don't know they have it, says Mark Okusa, MD, a nephrologist (kidney doctor) at UVA Health.
Few Early Signs, Testing Is Key
How are so many people walking around with kidney disease and don't know it? Many don't feel sick or notice symptoms until their disease is at an advanced stage. At that point, they're at risk for serious complications.
At Risk for Chronic Kidney Disease?
A simple blood and urine test can help you catch it early before you have serious complications. Talk with your doctor about screening or find a UVA Health doctor near you if you don't have one.
That means it's important to know the risk factors for chronic kidney disease. You're more likely to get it if you have:
If you have any of these, you should get tested, Okusa says. Doctors use blood and urine tests to diagnose chronic kidney disease.
What If You Have Chronic Kidney Disease?
The disease keeps your kidneys from filtering blood as well as they should. That means waste and fluid from your blood build up in your body.
If a screening shows you have it, your doctor can work with you to keep it from getting worse. That might look like:
- Working with a registered dietitian on a kidney-healthy diet
- Keeping your blood pressure under control
- Staying in your target blood sugar range if you have diabetes
- Treating your obesity
- Taking or not taking certain medications to protect your kidneys
- Help to stop smoking
How UVA Health Is Helping
UVA Health recently joined the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program and held its first free kidney health screening event in Charlottesville. Follow @KDSAPatUVA to find out about upcoming events.