Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects more than 19 million Americans. The main risk factors for CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure while obesity and other traditional risks factors such as smoking, and high cholesterol are also important.
An easy way to understand these problems is to think of obesity as the trunk of a tree and the various diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, as the branches. It is thus not surprising that several issues co-exist in the same individual - as a matter of fact, the presence of one of these conditions should mandate looking for the other issues !
CKD is a silent disease - clinical symptoms typically do not occur till the disease has approached near end-stage. Hence, laboratory tests are necessary to diagnose CKD. These blood and urine tests are readily available and inexpensive.
Your kidneys are highly specialized organs that remove toxins and also perform other functions. They are supposed to last a person's life time - even individuals who donate a kidney can expect to have normal function for their life span. However diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure - if untreated or uncontrolled - lead to progressive damage to the kidneys that eventually gets to end-stage and dialysis or transplantation becomes necessary. The best strategy is to prevent the progression of CKD to that stage with tight blood pressure and diabetes control.
A nephrologist is a specialist trained to care for patients with CKD by instituting a comprehensive management plan that includes the treatment of complications typically associated with CKD.
An easily performed laboratory test called "Serum creatinine" is used to come up with the approximate percentage of kidney function - eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). Anybody with risk factors such as diabetes mellitus or hypertension should know these two numbers.
American Association of Kidney Patients
National Kidney Foundation
American Kidney Fund
iKidney / Renal Support Network
Kidney Directions U.S.