Protect Your Kidneys with Healthy Habits

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NEW YORK, Mar 8: Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)—one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Kidney disease is estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans and is sometimes called a “silent disease” because early kidney disease has no symptoms. People who have kidney disease may progress to kidney failure and are more likely to develop additional health problems—such as heart disease, and to die prematurely—which is why getting tested is so important.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of kidney disease in adults. A family history of kidney failure, as well as heart disease, also increases the chances of developing kidney disease. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians are at increased risk for developing kidney failure. This risk is due in part to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in these communities.

Get tested for kidney disease if you are at risk.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or family history, you should get tested for kidney disease. Testing is easy and involves a blood test and a urine test. The blood test tells how well your kidneys are working. The urine test checks for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.

If you have diabetes, get checked every year. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, talk with your health care provider about how often you should get tested. You should also have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Early treatment can prevent or delay other health problems.

The sooner you know you have kidney disease, the sooner you can get treatment to help prevent or delay progression to kidney failure.

Talk with your family about your health history.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease tend to run in families. African Americans and others who may have a greater chance of developing kidney disease should know their family health history and share what they learn about kidney disease with family members. You can take steps to help protect your family from kidney disease and its causes—diabetes and high blood pressure—by adopting a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.

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