World Kidney Day, celebrated on March 10 every year, aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. The Day has the following objectives:
- Raise awareness about our kidneys
- Highlight that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
- Encourage systematic screening of all patients with diabetes and hypertension for CKD
- Encourage preventive behaviours
- Educate all medical professionals about their key role in detecting and reducing the risk of CKD, particularly in high risk populations.
- Stress the important role of local and national health authorities in controlling the CKD epidemic. Health authorities worldwide will have to deal with high and escalating costs if no action is taken to treat the growing number of people with CKD. On World Kidney Day all governments are encouraged to take action and invest in kidney screening.
The 2011 World Kidney Day Campaign focuses on the important association between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the fact that CKD is a major risk for CVD. The slogan for this year's campaign is “Protect Your Kidneys and Save Your Heart”.
World Kidney Day calls attention to the large, and often unappreciated, role played by kidney dysfunction in increasing premature cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.
CVD is the most common of the chronic diseases that impact global mortality. About 30% of all deaths worldwide and 10% of all healthy life lost to disease are accounted for by CVD alone. Although there has been some decline in mortality from CVD in developed countries, no such decline has been reported in developing countries, in ethic and socially disadvantaged minority populations, or in people with accompanying CKD.
Kidneys serve a very important function in the human body, mainly to remove toxins and excess water from our blood. They help to control our blood pressure and red blood cell production and keep our bones healthy. Kidney disease is common, and often life-threatening. Fortunately many conditions are treatable, if detected early. Every year, millions of people die prematurely due to kidney failure and heart attacks and strokes linked to chronic kidney disease. Diseases affecting the kidney are often silent, having few symptoms, especially in early stages. If left unchecked, the disease can progress or lead to kidney failure, which can then severely affect the quality of life.
If kidney disease is detected early, appropriate treatment can delay or prevent the development of chronic kidney disease. It is simple to detect early signs of kidney problems by taking some precautions and undergoing a few tests.
What can you do for your kidneys?
- Keeping fit and active - Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and thereby lowers your risk of CKD. Regular exercise helps you keep fit.
- Keep your sugar levels under check – Over half of people who have diabetes go on to develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to get their kidney functions tested regularly. If detected early, kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced and even prevented.
- Monitor your blood pressure - Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can result in a stroke or heart attack, few know that hypertension is also the one of the most common causes of kidney damage. If your blood pressure consistently goes 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risks with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other risk factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Keeping your weight under check can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions risk factors associated with CKD.
- Eat healthy - Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon). In order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients.
- Say NO to smoking - Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. According to many scientific studies, smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
- Don’t take OCTs regularly - Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage if taken on a regular basis. Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.
- Check out for the “risk factors” – The following factors make you all the more vulnerable to CKD:
- family history of kidney disease
- Asian, African and Aboriginals origin
- Keep track of your cholesterol - Hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood) is linked with heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. That is why controlling your cholesterol level is crucial to your overall well-being.
- Stay well-hydrated - Many people are chronically dehydrated. It is always important to drink plenty of water, especially during summers. Individuals who suffer or have suffered from Kidney Stones in the past, should develop an appropriate hydration strategy. Just make sure you don’t consume too much water. Try to strike the proper balance when it comes to hydration. You may consult your physician, if necessary.
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are, however, several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing the kidney disease. Some of the important ways were listed above.