Kidney Disease Kills
Breast cancer sucks. No doubt about it! But I would be surprised if anyone living in the United States circa 2017 has not yet heard of the disease. After all, breast cancer awareness events are more numerous than crashes at a motocross race. In fact, cancer – in general – is an oft-discussed illness, with specific types celebrated every month of the year. Such is not the case, however, when it comes to kidney disease. Familiarity with basic kidney health is rare, although kidney disease kills 30 million American adults and millions of others are at risk.
What is Kidney Disease
A diagnosis of kidney disease means that a person’s kidneys cannot effectively filter blood. This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body. Kidney disease can cause other health problems, such as heart disease. People who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) run a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history of kidney failure. For more details about CKD, read my recent blog post.
Basic Kidney Disease Facts
- Ten percent of the global population suffers from chronic kidney disease.
- Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
- Two simple tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine.
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a simple calculation doctors can make using a patient’s blood test results, to estimate kidney function.
- Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means CKD is present.
- Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.
- Hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension.
- High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney failure.
- African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Seniors are at increased risk.
Since kidney disease is the ninth most common cause of death in the U.S., more should be done to educate people about it. That’s why I plan to Ironman the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000 this November – to raise awareness about kidney health and funds for the National Kidney Foundation. Since I’ll be racing with just one kidney, I hope to call attention to the disease which is more often diagnosed in women than men. I believe CKD deserves to be recognized as often as the cancers that target women.
“In the general population it is well known that women have a lower mortality risk than men, however we showed surprisingly for dialysis patients that there is almost no such survival advantage for women,” says Friedrich K. Port, MD, a research scientist and past president of the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health and a lead author on the study. “This international observation will be a focus for additional research.”
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Whatever your sex, don’t allow kidney disease to go unchecked. Ask your doctor to run a blood test, especially if you:
- Feel tired and/or lack energy.
- Struggle to concentrate.
- Consistently have a low appetite.
- Can’t sleep.
- Experience muscle cramping at night.
- Deal with swollen feet and ankles.
- Notice puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning.
- Have dry, itchy skin.
- Need to urinate often, especially at night.
Since I am 62 years old, the goal has earned me the nickname, Viejo Loco Chingon (Old Crazy Badass) by friends and fans alike. A survivor of Chronic Kidney Disease, I don’t let the fact I have only one kidney define me. I like to live life to the fullest and want to encourage others to do the same.
Please follow my videos learn from my experiences, laugh at me or with me. I will share my knowledge of what in hopes I’ll be able to help others along the way. The best advice I can give is to get to know your kidney health. A simple blood test can reveal how well your kidneys are functioning. So, ask your doctor for a test. It will be time well spent.