As the burden of diabetes and hypertension increases, so does the burden of chronic kidney disease (CKD), say doctors, stressing that awareness about kidney care is key to preventing CKD.

The theme for World Kidney Day, to be observed on Thursday, is ‘kidneys and ageing’.

Around 10 per cent of the country’s population suffers from CKD, says M. Prabhakar, consultant urologist with Nova Speciality Hospital. The problem becomes severe in diabetics and hypertensive persons. In India, around 60 per cent of the patients suffering from kidney disease are either diabetic or suffer from high blood pressure, says Dr. Prabhakar.

“As age advances, kidneys also age and the number of nephrons, the functional units of a kidney, dwindle gradually, and this reduces the efficiency of kidneys. The structural and functional frailty of kidneys in old age makes it more vulnerable for failure,” says N. Gopalakrishnan, head of nephrology at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GGH).

At GGH, persons over the age of 60 form 12 per cent of admissions, he says. Among the geriatric population, the common causes for renal failure include dehydration, chronic use of painkillers, obstruction of the urinary tract or prostate enlargement (in men) and cervical cancer or uterus prolapse (in women). Some cancers can also cause renal failure.

The geriatrics department of the hospital receives at least five patients every day with mild renal failure, says head of the department B. Krishnaswamy.

On average, at least 150 patients come to the outpatient department. “We manage many of them ourselves but in a month we may refer around 10 cases to the nephrology department for care,” he added.

Doctors say keeping cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels under control, drinking three litres of water daily, including green leafy vegetables and fruits in the diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle will help keep kidneys healthy. Further, it is important to go for an annual screening of kidney function, especially if one is diabetic or hypertensive.

The screening should include urine analysis and test for protein deposits. A blood test to rule out urea and creatinine is also necessary

On Thursday, Stanley GH and GGH will host awareness programmes. Tanker Foundation will organise a series of programmes that will be followed by an endowment lecture.

More In: Chennai | Health