by Cheryl Cody DaVita Divison Vice President
How much thought have you given your kidneys lately? Actually, have you ever thought about your kidneys? Your kidneys clean your blood by removing waste and excess fluid, maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, and help regulate blood pressure. When the kidneys become damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in the body. If left untreated, diseased kidneys may eventually stop functioning completely. Loss of kidney function is a serious – potentially fatal – condition. Chances are that unless you are afflicted with kidney disease or know someone who is, you’ve never thought about your kidneys. But it’s important that you start thinking about them because chronic kidney disease (CKD) is nothing short of an epidemic in this country. Scarier still, minorities are at greater risk than whites. The chance of an American adult being diagnosed with CKD is nearly 12 times higher than an American woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. In fact, the number of adults in the United States living with CKD is almost three times the number of those with cancer. According to experts, one in nine Americans – more than 31 million adults – have CKD and 90 percent don’t know they are affected. How can that be? The fact is that there are usually few or no symptoms in the early stages of CKD. Unfortunately, for this reason it is called the “silent killer.” It is typically not until the late stages of CKD that noticeable changes occur in the body. Some of these symptoms may include high blood pressure; regularly feeling tired, dizzy or nauseated; swelling in your feet, hands or face; back pain; bloody, foamy or dark-colored urine; or a change in how often – more or less – you go to the bathroom. Leading causes of CKD are diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and a family history of CKD. It is important to talk with your family and physician to understand your personal risk factors. High-risk ethnic groups include African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans and Native Americans. What can you do? Early detection through screening can help slow down or even stop the progression of CKD into chronic kidney failure. Kidney failure, known as end stage renal disease or ESRD, means a person must either get a kidney transplant or go on dialysis to live. At DaVita we strongly encourage everyone to get tested for CKD or, if you have been diagnosed with CKD, to tell a friend or loved one about your personal experience. DaVita offers dialysis services to more than 125,000 patients across the United States but considers itself a community first and a company second. Part of being a caring neighbor is educating the community about what you know best, which for DaVita is kidney disease. DaVita wants to make people aware of this serious disease so they can detect it early and never have to go on dialysis. DaVita believes the more you know about your kidneys and how they work, the better choices you’ll be able to make about your own care. DaVita provides dialysis services in nearly 50 locations in Wisconsin, including four in Milwaukee, serving patients and spreading awareness about CKD. Each clinic specializes in providing specific treatments, known as modalities, including in-center hemodialysis, home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. For more information about kidney disease, treatment options, kidney-friendly recipes and much more, visit www.davita.com. Cheryl Cody, a registered nurse who also holds an MBA, is vice president of operations for DaVita, Inc., the country’s largest independent provider of dialysis services
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