Who Is At Risk For Renal Disease

Chronic kidney disease often is not felt or recognized until kidney function is almost completely gone. Although it gets progressively worse over a period of months, symptoms don’t generally appear until around three-fourths of the function has already been lost. However, even though there are no noticeable symptoms of renal disease in the early stages, there is still damage occurring. While generally the value of screening is negligible in people who don’t already show signs of kidney trouble, regular screening is recommended for people who are at risk. That means obese people, smokers, people with high blood pressure or heart problems, people with a family history of kidney failure, people over 60, diabetics, and black, Asian, and Native American people.

Not only are people from racial minority backgrounds more prone to kidney disease due to genetics, studies now suggest that socioeconomically disadvantaged people—poor people and members of racial minorities—are more prone to kidney disease and tend to have worse outcomes when they do have kidney disease, with it being far more likely to lead to complete kidney failure than for the population overall. The researchers say this study is a first step towards shrinking this gap by improving outcomes for these population.

Treating renal disease is next to impossible, especially in the later stages. Most patients who progress all the way to kidney failure are forced to manage the disease by periodically using a dialysis machine, essentially a mechanical kidney. Instead of treatment, the primary focus is on prevention. Quitting smoking lowers risk of kidney disease, as does moderation in alcohol and over-the-counter pain medications—these can affect the digestive system, kidneys included, if taken too much. Maintaining a healthy weight can help, with one study suggesting the "Mediterranean diet," high in plant foods and low in red meat, lowers kidney disease risk.

However, possible treatments are being investigated, particularly to arrest the progress of the disease before the kidneys shut down entirely. Statins, used to lower cholesterol, are now being recommended to kidney patients as well. A separate research team found tat kidney disease is associated with poor metabolism, and fixing the metabolism might stop the disease from worsening.

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