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Routine tests can help prevent kidney disease, says doctors

Staff Reporter
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Healthy lifestyle choices also play a crucial role in renal health

Nephrologists are grappling with increasing cases of renal diseases and failure, much of it brought about by other diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The renal dysfunction can, in turn, trigger cardiovascular diseases.

On the occasion of World Kidney Day this year on March 10, doctors are focussing on the theme “Protect your kidneys, save your heart.”

According to nephrologists, at least 25 per cent of patients with diabetes and hypertension are likely to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) with a significant percentage requiring renal replacement therapy (RRT) such as dialysis or kidney transplant.

40,000 on dialysis

Gokulnath, Professor and Head Nephrology, St. John's Hospital in the city, said nearly 250 kidney transplants are done every year in Karnataka. Nearly 40,000 patients are on dialysis every month, he said.

Asserting that the first step towards better control of kidney diseases is prevention, Dr. Gokulnath said basic health screening tests including urine test, blood tests and ultrasound are important.

Early diagnosis and treatment for kidney disease can significantly delay and even prevent kidney failure and subsequently the need for dialysis. “Healthy lifestyle choices also play a crucial role in renal health. If a kidney disease is identified early, it can often be managed through diet, medication and lifestyle adjustments,” he said.

Fatal condition

Director of the Institute of Nephro Urology G.K. Venkatesh said there are several types of kidney diseases that arise from different causes, including diabetes and hypertension, but if left untreated they can all progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a fatal condition that requires either a kidney transplant or dialysis to replace the failed kidneys' function.

“We plan to soon introduce peritoneal dialysis in our institute and 25 patients will be put on this system of home dialysis in the first phase. The idea is to reduce on the overall costs of commuting and medication for the patients,” Dr. Venkatesh said.

It is estimated that some 1,00,000 patients develop ESRD every year in India but 90 per cent of them never see a nephrologist. A mere 9,000 are started on haemodialysis every year. But a whopping 60 per cent of them don't come back for dialysis, unable to afford the programme.

Increased risk

C.N. Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, said the presence of CKD is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. “Nearly 50 per cent of deaths that occur in kidney patients are because of cardiovascular problems. “The process of narrowing of arteries is accelerated in those with kidney disease because of accumulation of calcium and cholesterol,” he said.

Insidious progress

All these doctors said a majority of individuals with early stages of CKD go undiagnosed because kidney diseases develop slowly and the symptoms only appear at a late stage when the patient already has kidney failure and may even need dialysis.

A routine test of urine, blood and blood pressure can reassure or detect if there are any early signs of kidney problems, the experts said adding that prevention is the best cure.

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